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Center for Action and Contemplation
The Prophetic Path: Motivated by Love
The Prophetic Path: Motivated by Love

God’s Hand in Mine

Monday, November 27, 2023

I never know today what’s going to happen to me tonight, but I do know as I walk alone, I walk with my hand in God’s hand.
—Fannie Lou Hamer, Freedom Vote Rally, 1963

CAC teacher Barbara Holmes describes the prophetic witness of Civil Rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer (1917–1977):

I have chosen [Fannie Lou Hamer] as a contemplative exemplar because of her spiritual focus and resolve. Her practices spoke to the depth of her contemplative spirit. In the face of catastrophic suffering, Hamer worked, loved, sang, and resisted the powers that be. She was jailed, beaten, and hunted by the enforcers of the social order after registering to vote….

Hamer was centered; she drew power from the example of her parents in their struggle to transcend the impossible situation of their lives. She faced daunting odds, as she was not dealing with an abusive individual but instead the power of federal, state, and local governments and cultural traditions that deemed her to be a nonperson. This designation of non-personhood did not deter her, for her contemplative entry into a deeper “knowing” came through her commitment to nonviolence. Adherence to the spiritual disciplines of civil rights activism required that she love the crucifier, bless the torturer, embrace the jailer, and pray for his or her salvation. She did this and more. [1]

Hamer often grounded her words in Scripture and in her faith that God and God’s justice was with her.

It’s poison; it’s poison for us not to speak what we know is right. As Christ said from the seventeenth chapter of Acts and the twenty-sixth verse, says: “Has made of one blood all nations, for to dwell on the face of the earth.” Then it’s no different, we just have different colors.

And, brother, you can believe this or not: I been sick of this system as long as I can remember…. I been as hungry—it’s a funny thing since I started working for Christ—it’s kind of like in the twenty-third of Psalms when he says, “Thou prepareth a table before me in the presence of my enemies. Thou anointed my head with oil and my cup runneth over.”

And I have walked through the shadows of death because it was on the tenth of September in ’62 when they shot sixteen times in a house and it wasn’t a foot over the bed where my head was. But that night I wasn’t there—don’t you see what God can do? Quit running around trying to dodge death because this book said, “He that seeketh to save his life, he’s going to lose it anyhow!” [Luke 9:24] …

All we got to do—that’s why I love the song “This Little Light of Mine”—from the fifth chapter of Matthew. He said, “A city that’s set on a hill cannot be hid.” And I don’t mind my light shining; I don’t hide that I’m fighting for freedom because Christ died to set us free. [2]

[1] Barbara A. Holmes, Joy Unspeakable: Contemplative Practices of the Black Church, 2nd ed. (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2017), 125–126, 127.

[2] The Speeches of Fannie Lou Hamer: To Tell It Like It Is, ed. Maegan Parker Brooks and Davis W. Houck (Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi, 2011), 4–5, 6.

Image Credit: A path from one week to the next—Loïs Mailou Jones, Shapes and Colors (detail), 1958, watercolor on paper, Smithsonian American Art Museum. Madison Frambes, Untitled 4 (detail), 2023, naturally dyed paper and ink, Mexico, used with permission. Madison Frambes, Untitled 1 (detail), 2023, naturally dyed paper and ink, Mexico, used with permission. Click here to enlarge image.

For this series of pieces for CAC [I explore] the loneliness of grief, and the fleeting moments of beauty, grounding, and community that make it bearable.
Madison Frambes, artist

Story from Our Community:  

I see God in the faces of friends and loved ones, in the eyes of the newborn, in the birds who sit on my balcony waiting for their supper. God gave us the gift of love. It’s both the method and the outcome. We have failed miserably in our world—but the gift is always there. It’s waiting to be recognized, to be embraced—to be lived. —Jaquelin F.

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