by Safiyah Fosuaf
“Don’t forget the bridge that brought you over.” How often I heard these words while growing up. Sometimes they were spoken by an old great-aunt while she sat and rocked on the porch. Other times, they were spoken as an admonition by my grand father while I watched him work on his car. The old folks hoped that they had seen the last generation of children forced to walk with a stoop because they lived in a room where the ceiling was too low. Through the eyes of faith, they saw a better day corning for black children born in the ’50s. The old folks knew, however, that the end of oppression did not always bring out the best in people. They feared that success would spoil us, distancing us from the faith that had sustained us .
Pulpit preachers chased me though my teens with cautions to “remember the days of beans and cornbread. ” Long before people in the know would talk about the politics of food, street corner preachers understood that food could fool a person into thinking he or she had arrived and did not need God or the community or even family.
Moses asks the descendants of Jacob to remember their beginnings, just as the old folks and the preacher-folks had warned me to remember the bridge that brought me over. The ritual offering, described in today’s passage from Deuteronomy is one of remembrance. The people of Israel were to remind them selves that they had been descendants of a wandering Aramean who went down to Egypt for refuge. Only by the grace of God had Israel become a mighty nation.
God, today I offer thanks for those who endured hardship to give me an opportunity for shalom. Amen.