Journal of the People’s Pastor

“Writing The History I’ve Lived, Living The History I Write!”

DARFUR DIARY


Another Generation Off To College

 

Like the Rough Riders of old western movies, arriving from different parts of the country, we descended upon Franklin and Marshal, a small college in Lancaster, PA. The occasion was College Enrollment for our grandson, Lorenzo (Rennie).

First to arrive was Sharon, his mother, bringing Rennie with her (Dartmouth College, Class of ‘87). In addition to being a successful entrepreneur, she is a professional performing artist and National Director of the Performing Arts in The House of the Lord Church. Second to arrive, an aunt – Leah. Our first-born, (Dartmouth College, Class of ‘84). Chief of Staff to the Democratic National Committee (DNC), recently appointed CEO to the National Democratic Convention ‘08 and founder and Pastor of The House of the Lord Church in Washington, DC, fifth generation of ministers in our family. Then came another aunt – Dawn Daughtry-Pemberton, our youngest daughter with her husband Todd. (Todd is founder and CEO of Bugs are Gone, an extermination company.) Dawn, (Syracuse University, Class of ‘89), is an Assistant Principal at PS 113 in Brooklyn, founder, and pastor of the House of the Lord Church in Bergen County, National Youth Director of the House of the Lord Churches, another 5th generation minister.

Then came Herb, Jr., uncle, and the youngest and only son, with his wife, Danielle, both are Attorneys at Law, their two sons, Herb, III (21⁄2 yrs.) and Miles (4months). Herb, (University of Chicago, Class of ‘91 and Georgetown Law School, Class of ’95) and now the Principal of Ronald Edmonds, II, Elementary School in Brooklyn.

Then came my wife, Dr. Karen Smith Daughtry, (Adelphi University, BA ‘78, MA ’83 in Education, the New York Theological Seminary, MPS in Religious Education ’85, D.Min in Pastoral Care & Counseling, ‘97), and I. We arrived late into the night.

The next day, his father, Lorenzo Chambers, Sr., arrived – (Dartmouth College, Class of ‘87).
It has become a family tradition, whenever there was/is a significant event in the lives of any member of the family; the family put forth maximum effort to be present. Some events, especially school related, i.e. Graduations, enrollment in a new school, athletic contest, performing arts participation, etc. were/is mandatory. So, on the morning of August 15 we gathered at breakfast to discuss the schedule for the day. First, there was the enrollment, where rooms were to be assigned and schedules would be given. From the hotel, it was only a few minutes drive to the school.

After receiving his room, the family, baby in a lockdown carrier, with bags and suitcases, marched up to the third floor of the redbrick dormitory. My wife, leading the way began searching for the best bed, mattress and room space. The room was shared with another student. This was part of the tradition, arrive first, my wife taking charge. We had done this with all four of our children. After examining the bed and mattress, of course, both were inadequate. The spring was broken and the mattress was too bumpy and soft. Up and down the dingy, soiled carpeted halls we went, until the right bed and mattress were found and moved into Rennie’s room.

Now, a major discussion, on which side of the room he should claim. After considerable deliberation, it was decided he should take the side next to the window. And the desk and book shelves closest to his bed. Now, began the cleaning, dusting and shifting stuff around. He had to have his own heater, microwave, refrigerator and a special quilt for his bed; the drawers and closet had to be spic an span for all the new stuff that had been purchased (much shopping had been done and much more yet to be done), everything was placed neatly in his drawers and closets. Another debate, what pictures would hang on the wall? It was decided Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X and a picture of Tommie Smith & John Carlos, winners at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico with raised black fits and hung down heads in protest at the Olympics.

Next, the library, books had to be purchased. It was a short distance across the manicured emerald grass, white paved walkway to the library. It was a quaint, little place with two floors of books, a narrow staircase and cozy sitting area with plush leather chairs. I could not resist the temptation of the big soft leather chair. I purchased a bottled of water, and looking out of the picture window, I surveyed the surroundings. The scene before my eyes was quiet, clean and beautiful. Here and there, a few people strolled casually to and fro.

After books, writing pads, posters (there was no MLK, Jr. posters) and “do dats” were purchased, the family, (baby in stroller) made its way to the freshman and family barbeque. Under the shade of trees tables of food were spread, mostly cold salads and hot dogs. I kept looking for a barbeque pit or grill. I never saw any. After hearing “rah rah” speeches from coaches, athletic director, family coordinator and introduction of freshman football players, we made our way to the restaurant and more shopping.

After lunch and shopping, the family returned to the room with more fixing and putting things away or in their places. After 10pm, Rennie returned to his room, he was delightfully startled and that is an understatement, when he walked into his room and was shown how orderly and neatly everything had been arranged. There were words of encouragement written on the pad on the wall. I was told to write something. I decided to wait until tomorrow.

When it was time to take our leave, as is our custom, we joined hands and prayed. We walked out into the warm night, stood at our cars, embraced and expressed endearing words. It was hard to leave him there. There is a little rhyming game I have played with him since he first learned to talk. It goes, “See you later alligator,” one of us would say. “After while crocodile,” would come the response. “You’re the boss applesauce.” “You got it made lemonade,” in response, and so on until we run out of rhymes. The person who said the last rhythm was the winner. So, he started. “See you latter alligator.” “After while crocodile,” I responded, etc. Near the end of the game, I said, “You’re the tops apricot.” He had no response, we smiled, embraced, I whispered to him, “I love you and I’m proud of you.” I felt guilty that I had beat him in the rhyming game. But the competitive spirit in me refuses to deliberately lose. Anyway, it would not be good for his self-esteem to know that I let him win. We waited until he had disappeared into the building. He was/is as close to being a perfect grandson as you can get.
I had said to his mother, in church after his going away party, something I heard David Dinkins say, quoting Congressman Charlie Rangel, “If I had known you were going to produce this wonderful grandson for me, I would have treated you better.”
The next morning as we were preparing to leave, Rennie called, he was so excited. He had outrun the upper classman in a special back and forth 40-yard race. (Later we learned he would be the starting tailback or running back, an extraordinary achievement for a freshman on any college football team.) I finished my letter at the breakfast table and handed it to Sharon to give to Rennie.

I wrote, “Dear Rennie; I wanted to write something profound to leave with you. Then it occurred
to me, I have said and modeled it all. Since you first saw the light of day, you have seen me as student, as teacher, pastor, leader, father, husband, counselor, etc. You have traveled with me. You have been at my side as we discussed local, national and international issues with leaders great and small. You have been at the church and in the community all of your life. You have been surrounded by family, church, school and community, providing you with love and support. You have been observing, absorbing, practicing, learning, teaching, leading, praying, singing, and studying – so, now you are the personification of all of those experiences. You are ready! It is as if you had been preparing all your life for the super bowl. When the moment arrives and you are waiting in the dressing room, there is nothing left to say or do. You have been waiting and preparing for the big game all of your life – the only thing left is to play the game, fully confident you will perform magnificently. God bless you, ‘You’re the boss applesauce.’”

When Sharon finished reading the letter, she exclaimed with tears and smiles, “This is wonderful. He will frame this.”
Drizzling rain had begun to fall as we started our journey back over the hills. Our conversations focused on Rennie growing up, what a wonderful child he had been. Our reveries were interrupted by the radio announcer with the sad news Max Roach, the incomparable musician, had died.

“So, we laugh and so we cry, so we live and so we die, we shed our tears and say good-bye, and such is the stuff of life.”

Upcoming Events

Hold the date for The National Religious Leaders Concerned About Darfur, Inc., and first Anniversary Celebration taking place on Thursday, October 18, 2007 from 6pm to 8pm at the House of the Lord Church, located at 415 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, New York.
Organizing Meetings regarding Darfur every Thursday - 12noon @ the House of the Lord Church
Keep abreast of our Darfurian activities by checking our web page @ www.holnj.org.
BCAT Program every 2nd and 4th Sunday @ 2p.m.
For further Information on all events, contact The House of the Lord Church @ (718) 596-1991.