Just see the Holy Ghost lookin’ for me

It was the Facebook “Timeline” (along with this blog) that led me to figure out my scanner and reclaim at least a portion of my considerable collection of old photographs, many obscured for years in a wall of crumbling photo albums.  Like this one for instance, taken of a piece of wall-art in the Boston University Student Union in 1983.

Long gone now, like many of its subjects, it was made up dozens of plaster cast faces of “BU people.” Living far from Boston at the time, I’d made a special trip to see it because one of those faces was that of my dear friend and mentor, Thelma Brown, a petite widow who was in her late 60s when I knew her in the late ‘70s…that’s her, front and center.

Five mornings a week, from 1977 – 1980, Thelma and I would prepare breakfast for over a thousand students at the BU West Campus complex. Institutional cooking is a far cry from culinary artisanship of course, and my skills remain limited, but she helped me to discover a sense of pride in my work that I still retain.

Although catering company contracts came and went, Thelma remained a part of that BU community for quite some time and she told me of another “coadjutant” she’d had back in the 1950s who was then working on his PhD in Theology.

“Martin was a good worker, but very quiet,” she said. “I had no idea he’d go so far, and as a speaker no less!”

His full name was Martin Luther King, Jr. and I am fully confident that he too learned a great deal from Thelma Brown. In my life there have been few finer role models.

And in honor of that theology student whose birthday is actually on Tuesday, here’s an African-American spiritual that relates to both the Old and New Testaments. The verses reflect the Israelites’ escape out of Egypt as found in Exodus 14 and the chorus refers to healing as in John 5:4.

It’s claimed that songs such as “Wade in the Water” contained explicit instructions to fugitive slaves on how to avoid capture and which route to take to make their way to freedom. As sung by Eva Cassidy, this song’s recommendation was to leave dry land and take to the water as a strategy to throw pursuing bloodhounds off one’s trail.  It was included on her “debut” studio album, released in 1997, a year after her untimely death from melanoma.

LISTEN TO THIS SELECTION – Sunday 13 January 

Wade in the Water

Wade in the water

Wade in the water, children

Wade in the water

God’s gonna’ trouble the water

 Who’s that young girl dressed in red?

God’s a-gonna trouble the water

Must be the children that Moses led

God’s a-gonna trouble the water

 Wade in the water

Wade in the water, children

Wade in the water

God’s gonna’ trouble the water

Who’s that young girl dressed in white?

Wade in the Water

Must be the Children of Israelites

God’s gonna’ trouble the water

 Wade in the water

Wade in the water, children

Wade in the water

God’s gonna’ trouble the water

Who’s that young girl dressed in blue?

Wade in the water

Must be the Children that’s comin’ through

God’s gonna’ trouble the water

Wade in the water

Wade in the water, children

Wade in the water

God’s gonna’ trouble the water

If you don’t believe I’ve been redeemed

Wade in the water

Just see the Holy Ghost lookin’ for me

God’s gonna’ trouble the water

 Wade in the water

Wade in the water, children

Wade in the water

God’s gonna’ trouble the water

 Alternative verses:

 Jordan’s water is chilly and cold

God’s gonna trouble the water

It chills the body, but not the soul

God’s gonna’ trouble the water

If you get there before I do

God’s gonna trouble the water

Tell all of my friends I’m coming too

God’s gonna’ trouble the water

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