“There’s Power in the Blood”

An excerpt from Marginal Eyes, Chapter 1

The choir, clapping and swaying in unison, joined in for the chorus, their voices booming and rolling with strength. Many in the pews were clapping now. Some were rocking in their seats. Others stood and swayed to the beat. A few were even dancing slowly into the aisle as nurses stood by ready to aid those who might swoon. The singing was punctuated with shouts from the congregation: “Say it!” and “Mm!” and “That’s right!”

A smiling man across the aisle clapped his hands with my rhythm and said, “OK! Get it, son!” A woman in a big flowery hat behind him saw me dancing and smiled at me as well.

“Oooh, Lord! Bless your heart!” she laughed, clapping too. At turns various people were loving on me from different directions.

Moments like this of joyful innocence rest in an ever fresh place within my heart. I have found, though, that they took a concerted effort to recall because they became very rare. By contrast to those days I would spend most of the next thirty years of my life struggling—usually in vain—to recreate those precious feelings of belonging and freedom. I had memories of them from times and places where moving freely to a beat was all I needed to do to fit in.

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