“Mandatum Novum” in the hood

17 April 2014 | By andrena in Church, DatLife, Friends, General, Health | No Comments Yet

I was concentrating on my “mandatum novum” (new mandate) sermon, for Holy Thursday – or Maundy Thursday. Those two words made me laugh, because who would’ve ever thought I would be learning words like this…latin words! God just cracks me up sometimes! (In a good way).

The complete latin verse, however, is “Mandatum novum do vobis ut diligatis invicem sicut dilexi vos” – “A new commandment I give unto you, That you love one another as I have loved you.” (John 13:34)

“Mandatum novum” had no meaning for me in the crack houses of Staten Island or the streets of South Road in Jamaica New York.

Or did it?

Seems to me, depending upon who your ‘road dawgs’ were, you did follow a new commandment, irregardless of your context … just not in the conventional way most would think. The roadies I hung with, we didn’t wash each others feet, but we did love one another…we didn’t wash each others feet – but washed each others desperation with each others tears.


  • Andrew Marchant, my BEST buddy in that life (who died from AIDS related illness). We looked out for one another on alternating food stamp dates). He sat on the Staten Island pier as I left on the ferry for Phoenix House. He thought I would return. I didn’t, but I would keep track of him, and was present for him in the darkened living-room as he lay on the floor dying in the dark; ashamed of the lesions on his body and the awful curvature of his spine.
  • Wendy (who called the cops on me, when I was in labor and sucking on the pipe in her room).  It took a lot of courage for her to do that. As she was smoking too, she left herself open to getting kicked out of that welfare hotel. Never knew what happened to her afterwards. I pray she got her life together. I give thanks for that phone call, and the subsequent delivery of my child.
  • DeWayne Hailey: My park roadie, my bottle collecting roadie, my finding shelter in the shells of houses that were in the process of being built in St. Albans, Jamaica roadie, my steak stealing and BBQ’ing in the boathouse in the middle of the park, winter snow roadie. I wonder where you are. We may have been crazy … but we definitely looked out for one another.

I give thanks for especially these from my past…”mandatum novum” A new commandment, indeed!  We had it down pat…at least they had it down pat for me, until I was able to pick myself up, and begin to find myself.

By no means am I glorifying my past life. But I am lifting up the care people give to one another. Not just people attending church, and living their lives in accordance with society…but I believe there is a measure of love and care in humanity, period! Even if that humanity is homeless, using and medicating the problems in their lives. Especially if that humanity is living in the margins. Especially, if some of us are lucky enough to find one another.

…and when I think about it.  I do believe most of ‘us’ have lived into that mandatum novum, as far back as our homeland, and for the most part in the plantation fields as well.  We have survived, by doing just that “loving one another”… sometimes,  not seeming to loving one another, because we haven’t fully learned what it means to love ourselves – but blood is thicker than water… In the hood and outta the hood, our bloodlines run deep.   And that is a story for another time.






Back to what I was talking about.  In my example, there are those, who do band together and love one another:

  • just to make it through another night, or another day, in each others company.
  • just to sit on the pier and watch your buddy’s ferry sail to a distant shore of recovery.
  • just to sit on the floor in a darkened room and be present for a dying pal.
  • to have the courage to call the authorities to give an unborn child a chance at life.

…love one another, as Christ has loved you.

Yes, I am HER…but I don’t play ANGRY BIRDS.

13 April 2014 | By andrena in family, Friends, General, Healing, Health, Rant | No Comments Yet
I don't play

I don’t play

I had that “Angry Birds” game for a good minute on my phone!  Literally!  After the first few rounds, I was done!  I despise that game, and couldn’t understand for the life of me, what folks saw in it.    Well, let me take that back….there was an addictive draw to it.  As soon as I would pull that sling back, and let it go – I would feel some kinda way, like *you just got suckered into this game again*.

It wasn’t until I finally just swiped it OFFA my phone, that I was done with it!  Thank goodness!

The same can be said of people.  People can be ANGRY BIRDS. After a few things which have happened to me in the past two weeks.  I just want to say:  Don’t be an ANGRY BIRD!    It’s not healthy!

ANGRY BIRDS can be bullies!  Spewing forth their anger. Anger from those ANGRY BIRDS can spread…and yes, anger can be a trigger!

I recently had a situation with some family members.  Not immediate.  But close enough.  Had to shut that down.  A little painful, yes…but had to swipe that offa my wall.

And just recently, I fell face first by my own volition, into a situation where an ANGRY BIRD revealed itself.  I had a large part to play in that one.  Grateful to be able to get the lesson.

Coming out of my therapist office, this past Thursday, I was recognized by a woman who knows of me from some of my HIV work, and an interview she read in a magazine.   “Are you that woman, that pastor?”  This is not the first time this has happened; being recognized on the street – especially the community where my doctor’s office is located.   “Yes, I am her”  I responded.   She heaped complements, I sucked it up.  Humbled by it, but yes, liking it.  I took her contact and hugged her and yes, I contacted her, and she responded with a need to meet with me.

As I often do, with others who contact me to talk, I invited her to meet with me, for a nominal fee of course…as nominal as nominal could be, like maybe a weeks worth of coffee money.  I understood that because of the office we were coming out of, that folks don’t have a lot of resources.  I also understand that my time, outside of my congregation and my regular duties is valuable.  I thought a week’s worth of coffee, was more than reasonable.

In addition, I explained to her that I was on the tail end of Lent, preparing for Palm Sunday, Holy Week and Resurrection Sunday.  I told her that I would be taking some time away after Easter and wouldn’t be back in the office until May 6.

I ingratiated myself with her further, by inviting her to our Community Meal, and to our service.  NOT because I was trying to get her to come to church, but rather, that it would be an additional time to speak with me outside of coming into my office for a weeks worth of coffee.    It would be free time, during the community meal – or after worship.  I NEVER would force anyone to come to church.  I made it plain in my response, that it would be an additional time to have a word with me.

Lord, ha’mercy!  I received a response from her claiming that I was trying to CHANGE her!  (what?) … how she had been looking for me for two years.  She said that I should be doing my work “pro bono”.  She wasn’t getting any help from the “same therapist”, I am seeing, mind you.  She then said: “let me leave you with this“…. at which point I just couldn’t go any further, because I felt that familiar feeling bubbling up.

I wrote her back, trying to clean up what was obviously a misunderstanding, and I’m not trying to change you…and blather, blather, blather… feeling sorry that she misunderstood what I was saying.

…and then I thought to myself:  NO!

See… another thing ANGRY BIRDS do, is direct their anger inappropriately.  All that stuff she had for me, was not for me.  She is an ANGRY BIRD!  I don’t know what is REALLY going on in her life.   Here’s part of the problem.  I met you coming out of my therapist’s office!

That right there, should’ve been a boundary for me.  And seriously, it should’ve been an issue for her as well.  Both of us in the therapist office.  And you wanna make an appointment with me.  Not that I am off my rocker or anything.  But I do have issues.

Being on the tail-end of someone else’s ANGER is one of them.  I don’t do anger well.  Oh…I try, to be passive and graceful… and I do to a certain extent.   But there comes a point where it is:  “Ahhhhhh NO!, I don’t think so”

Of course she threw in there stuff about me being a pastor, as people usually do…they get it twisted, that we are just supposed to be available at their beck and call.  We are supposed to take whatever they feel like doling out to us.  Well, that may work for some clergy.  But NO!

I will not disrespect you…but neither will I be disrespected.

Coming out of that office, I should’ve accepted gracefully her complement, and kept it moving.  I should not have contacted her.

Swiping that ANGRY BIRD …

Don’t be an ANGRY BIRD!  ….. Girl, bye!

Bad Behavior has blocked 25 access attempts in the last 7 days.