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Tell me Mama, can you hear me?

Thinking of You by Lenny Kravitz

(Written by Lenny Kravitz, Lysa Trenier • Copyright © Universal Music Publishing Group)

Tell me mama is your life a better change? And tell me mama Would you live your life the same Or come back and rearrange ?

Tell me mama how is freedom ? Oh I'm thinking of you And all the things that you wanted me to be And I'm trying now

When I think of my Mama mostly I remember smells.  She cooked.  A lot – by that I don’t just mean often but large quantities too.  Rolls, meats, cakes, preserves, soup, chili.  I was a little kid, forced to help in the kitchen.  I hated it.  We might do 30 dozen rolls in a day.  Not the most joy filled day in the estimation of an 8 year old.  It was hard, sweaty work.  And the cleaning was never-ending.  I loved the way the food tasted, but the marathons of cooking made me resent the process until I was in my 20s with a child of my own. 

Now? I would give anything now to go back in time and be there in the kitchen –listening to her puttering, watching her put ingredients together, rarely ever measuring anything, always multi-tasking.  She was, when she was cooking, all muscle memory and majick it seemed to me - practically making things float in the air and somehow come together into cinnamon rolls or chili.  I was the best fed kid I knew.   Other kids parents fought to buy Mama's food or get invited into the kitchen to be shown the secrets that somehow never made it past Mama's front door.  They would go home, follow what they had written and the rolls didn't even come close.  She would laugh, later when the inevitable phone call came - "... but, Lennie, I did it just like you did!" She would just shake her head.  "I don't know what to tell, you, baby." 

Tell me mama no more sleeping

Tell me mama no more weeping? I'm thinking of you

What they didn't have was the muscle memory of cooking probably 100,000 meals since she was 9.  Yes, I said 9 years old.  That was the year that she was told unceremoniously that she could no longer go to school with her sisters and brothers, but that she had to go and work in the house of a wealthy white family.  To cook for them.  As their cook and house maid.  Not even 100 years ago.

In the kitchen she told me about how she had been beaten when the cake she made from scratch, at 10 years old, fell and 'ruined' dinner.  Beaten by the Lady of the House.  I knew what it was to be beaten, but the context wasn't the same.  Mama beat me so no one else would.  Mama got beat because... well... there is no because.  Rather, the because is too big to address here.

Whether or not the food was good became about life and death. 

I understand now that having me with her in the kitchen was, to her, lessons on survival.  Not ruining the Saturday afternoon I could have roller skated through, but lessons in living and making it.  Lessons in how to take care of my family, but also maybe earn a buck or two if I needed it.  

Tell me mama is it just the way they say? (Tell me mama) And tell me mama are you missing me the way That I'm missing you today?

Tell me mama can you hear me?

Oh I'm thinking of you..

At the beginning of our endeavors we must honor the Ones Who Came Before Us.   The Ones whose actual flesh contributed to the making of our own, the Ones who took us in when we had no flesh and blood connection to them.  The Ones who suffered in ways we can only imagine.  The Ones who are still holding us and speaking to us from the other side if we listen. 

Look, I get it.  It took me a long time to hear.  And then to listen.  And then to feel the love. Truly Mama still has my back, and will give me strength when I need it and love all the time.   It didn't occur to me for many years that all I needed to do was ask.  Ask her to make her energy known to me.  Ask her to help me make my life look like the kind of life she is welcome in.  To help me make a warm home for my own kids.  To help me know I have the strength to do whatever Spirit and my Higher Self have set before me. 

I am so grateful and I honor the lessons of food, abundance, warmth, strength and a full belly.  Mama knew how important those things were.   I am so grateful for her gifts. 

How have you honored and remembered the Ones who came before you? Ancestor veneration is important when following the path of any spiritual pursuit, or really any endeavor.  There is power in this recognition of your people.  I encourage you to look at old family pictures, listen to the songs your grandparents listened to.  Read a book your ancestor would have had access to or that describes a time they lived in.  Eat the food they loved.  Bring that energy from then into your now.  A full vision of what came behind can help make looking at the way ahead that much clearer.

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