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i met quanita three and a half years ago, in august 2019. i’d just returned from a meditation retreat where the red rocks in New Mexico told me that my inescapable fear was fear of myself. she showed up to guide me as i leaned into this fear, learned from it, and grew into more of the fullness of who i am. she showed up to initiate me.

in meeting her, there was immediate trust. i’m grateful for this. this doesn’t mean it has been easy. it means that i’ve always known she can see things i don’t see; she has access to wisdom that i do not have.

i’m grateful that right away, i knew who she was to me, a teacher, a guide. there was never any question about this. this allowed me to lean in–not only into her, but most importantly, into me.

after our first meeting (the day after my return from the red rocks), i asked her to share some of the book she told me she been writing. she did, without question. i waited to then share, in return, my writing. i knew, already: what i had been writing was in direct conversation with her writing. we already knew one another. the book had been writing itself through us for…ever?? she later texted me simply, “i think you’re supposed to write this book with me.” i wrote back, “me, too.”

in recalling this, i still feel the fear rise up within me. (picture me here, shaking my fists at the heavens!!). how in the hell could i possibly find myself in this book about about the journey from slavery to freedom, written as a love letter to her African American community? how could i co-author this book with Quanita, a Black Shaman, the woman who boldly owns being “The Promise of Forgiveness and Reconciliation?” well, i didn’t know. we never do. this is path of surrender.

because i knew who she was, i could relax into myself. “relax” mistakenly implies this was an easy process…and yet, there was ease. there was ease because quanita loved me without condition. there was no expectation, no judgement. there was truth, and there was clarity. learning and living the distinction has allowed me to practice showing up as me, with confidence that this is all that is asked of us.

my job in contributing to and co-authoring the book wasn’t to know as much or be as wise or woke as Quanita. it was to be amy–as honestly, as courageously as i could be. as we wove together our pieces for the book and listened to what it wanted to be, we named our different stories the “wisdom walk” (hers) and “the warrior walk” (mine). the beauty in this for me was to experience that my walk was not inferior or less than or not as valuable as hers. she helped show me that where i am, who i am, is simply divine.

in this culture, we are taught to compete and try to measure up. we’re conditioned to believe that our worth is earned, proven. walking alongside quanita for the past three and a half years, i’ve learned otherwise. she has shown me that because we are all interdependent and bound up together, that we are divine as is. there are no conditions. she has helped me to know pain as the awakening to more of the whole, the revealing of this interconnectedness. it is not bad; it is not good. it is what it means to be connected. waking up to the pain is an invitation into more of that wholeness.

it ain’t easy. i get so mad at her! i get so mad at the truth. and i laugh and bless myself because i know that underneath my anger is grief which points to forgiveness which points to freedom. all of which is wrapped up in fear.

this week i was telling her about a work scenario and she called me out, telling me to stand my ground. telling me to be who i am in the world. shit.

those red rocks were right. there is such fear of myself. i’m reminded of marianne williamson’s piece here:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

christena cleveland’s new book, “god is a black woman” nails it. i haven’t read it. but i already know. at least i know a bit. of course quanita showed up to initiate me. of course she is the promise of forgiveness and reconciliation. of course, because who else but a dark-skinned Black woman born in Cincinnati, USA with exactly her story to heal the wounds of domination and to show us LOVE?

and as grateful as i am for quanita in my life, i’m equally as grateful to my inner knowing. she showed up because i asked to know myself. i asked to love myself.

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