When “Paper Ears” Speak Up
My relaxed hair with coordinated slacks & blouse had me slightly uneasy twisting every now and then in my chair. Not to mention I rarely tread from the Law Center onto undergraduate grounds. So, I knew it would be an awkward moment going to the UC Underground, but I wouldn’t miss out on this rare shot at a creative study break. The Poetry Slam had a stage reserved for Madame Oluwakemi Ola (aka AYA blogger), and I was going to be a witness no matter how many afros & colorful scarves obscured my view.
It was just a few days back when we were talking about spiritual gifts. Do you know yours when you see ’em? Individuals touched with Divine gifts may often be found behind the stage’s curtain. So the more interesting question for me is not who is on the stage, but who’s missing?
We’d arrived and taken our seats when last year’s champ grasped the mic. The message on her lips hooked everyone in the audience, as she put to rest “Black Texan” so this night could go on. The angst – political & personal, the reemerging sexual focal point, & a passion for graphic short lettered vocabulary made me wonder more than once (for reasons other than my peculiar attire) if I should really be in this room. I believe what kept me in my seat, and eventually numbed my squeamish nerves was the simple fact that I came dressed. Fully clothed with a purpose, she was ready to expose what He gave her – just on paper.
Ditto that…Ephesians 5 says, “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said: “Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.”
We Christians seem to shun places not seeping with our kosher peers. Do you have friends? I mean, the un-churched kinds. Or do you have a problem connecting with those uneducated on the 28 fundamentals?
“F r o m t h e M i n d t o t h e M i c r o p h o n e” titled this Poetry Slam. I wasn’t worried about Kemi’s mind – God’s definitely gifted her with 2 extra cups of intellect and I had already read, ooo’d, and awww’d over her piece. She said she hadn’t completely memorized it though, and her nerves would get a bit edgy every now and then. So while waiting my only question on rerun was, how is she going to get the 10 pt font from her paper to the mic? Just then, “Up next, O..luwa, kemi?” and then she took the stage prepped by God. From that Spring night when she’d first keyed “Dear Human” to her blog, to the Autumn evening where she now stood facing a crowd of judges and students searching for something deep, real, wow.
It’s amazing how God shines so bright and so well when we let Him in, and then just show up with Him. In a dark room there’s no denying the light. Whether He wants to manifest Himself in spoken word, splattered paintings, interpretive dance, or publications by author anonymous – that’s up to Him. I just wonder how many times we either shy away from the dark, or simply forget to show up with the gifts ready for the Spirit to market His fruit. I’m chuckling, because it was just a few weeks back when a friend and I discussed how careful we must be with our gifts. We ought to use them to glorify God and not ourselves. The gift of effective speech comes with the liability of the affect your words have on those listening. “People listen when I speak,” she said “No really, people listen…”
2 scorecards with 10s and a standing ovation later, I think they got it. “Dear Human” hushed the noise, boos, and jeers to a point of simple Truth. I’ll bet there was someone in the audience who was waiting to hear “I love you.” Maybe this was their first time, or maybe someone just needed the memo one more time. Whatever, people listened and God spoke. He told them how He loved them, how He’d never leave them, how He already knew about their sin issues, and again how He loved them. This time they responded favorably, and decided they wanted to send her on to regionals. Of course we know, results may vary – but the point is in her obedience the Spirit showed up and exposed the Truth.
And then “Paper Ears” went up, “Paper listens when no one else will…” the last poet of the night opened the closing act which in turn made my ears perk up for the rest. Some of us have to write in coffee shops or mountain tops to express ourselves. We’ve all been there where it seems we just can get what’s in our mind to the microphone. The eloquence of expression is a gift from God, and sometimes it may come in forms unexpected. God gave Moses, Aaron. We just have to be ready for God to deliver what He wants to deliver
when and how He wants to deliver it.
“It said, “Son of man, stand up. I have something to say to you.” The moment I heard the voice, the Spirit entered me and put me on my feet. As he spoke to me, I listened. He said, “Son of man, I’m sending you to the family of Israel, a rebellious nation if there ever was one. They and their ancestors have fomented rebellion right up to the present. They’re a hard case, these people to whom I’m sending you—hardened in their sin. Tell them, ‘This is the Message of God, the Master.’ They are a defiant bunch. Whether or not they listen, at least they’ll know that a prophet’s been here. But don’t be afraid of them, son of man, and don’t be afraid of anything they say. Don’t be afraid when living among them is like stepping on thorns or finding scorpions in your bed. Don’t be afraid of their mean words or their hard looks. They’re a bunch of rebels. Your job is to speak to them. Whether they listen is not your concern. They’re hardened rebels.” – Ezekiel 2:1-7
Sometimes, paper ears must speak.