Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Reflections: A Spiritual Journey to Kemet

Hotep my brothers and sisters.

Although our visit to Kemet has included stops at numerous iconic sites, such as the Pyramids at Giza, the royal mummy hall in the Cairo Museum, the Philae Temple near Aswan and Ramses’ II temple monuments at Abu Simbel, the objective of our journey has a greater purpose beyond sightseeing. For me, this has been a spiritual voyage that is God inspired. This is truly an experience of a lifetime. I have so much to share about the journey to Kemet.

This journey has been the medicine to further rejuvenate my mind, body and soul. In addition, the acquisition of knowledge of the contribution that our ancestors made to mankind is another primary objective. This objective has been more than adequately addressed by our illustrious co-lectures; Dr. Greg Carr and Dr. Mario Beattie. I thank both of them for their commitment to this effort.

After some reflection and enlightenment of my sacred purpose as one of the elders on this trek to Kemet, I come before you on the eve of a day that is of some personal significance; my 62nd birthday. My thoughts emerge from a deep inner urge to give praise to my Rock, Redeemer, Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I lift Him up. I also seek to convey a brief autobiographical Sebayet, which will include a few words of wisdom, which is meant to inspire members of my Howard University family and other interested readers and listeners.

Such expression is consistent with the Instructions of Ptah- Hotep, which is the most ancient complete literary work existing. It was written in the Fifth Egyptian Dynasty, 3580 B.C. to 3536 B.C. In this papyrus book, Ptah-Hotep sets down the rules of behavior that all wise men should convey to their sons. It consists of 37 maxims framed by a prologue and an epilogue. One of the maxims reads as follows:

  • May this servant be ordered to make a staff of old age, So as to tell him the words of those who heard, the ways of the ancestors, Who have listened to the gods.

  • May such be done for you, So that strife may be banned from the people, And the Two Shores may serve you!

  • Said the majesty of this god: Instruct him then in the sayings of the past, May he become a model for the children of the great, May obedience enter him, And the devotion to him who speaks to him, No one is born wise.

    Therefore, consistent with the Instructions of Ptah-Hotep, I offer the following testimony (my staff of old age) for those who are inclined to hear.

My journey of sixty-two years has taught me the value of faith. For without faith in God we are like wheat blowing in a storm; without purpose or direction. It is written in Hebrews 11:1 that, “…faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”Over the course of my life, I have learned that through focused pray God reveals the evidence of His truth and mercy. This is done in His own time and serves to confirm the validity of our faith in His presents.

The Early Years
My mother once told me that oftentimes, God brings us to our knees to bring us closer to Him. Early in my life, the death of my father was a life altering experience that tested my faith. I was 16 years old and I searched for answers. Why did he leave me, my mother and siblings so early? How could I go on without his love, support and guidance? It was during those quiet times on my knees in prayer, during the reading of His Word or during the mid-night hour in the midst of a deep slumber that God began to reveal His purpose. Scripture teaches us that our Father in heaven will never forsake or leave us. Joshua 1:5 says, “…As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.” I was in search for some explanation, justification or understanding for how to go on without my father. However, the answer to my second question is found in Proverb 3:5, which reads, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”

Young Adulthood
Late one evening while on guard duty in the Republic of Vietnam at the age of twenty-one, I again was presented with a situation that tested my faith. The siren when off and I scrambled to get my gear together. Within two or three minutes, I heard the sound of a 122 millimeter enemy rocket whirling over my head. Momentarily, I froze in a state of panic and fear. Mercifully, I reached into my pocket and pulled out a small bible, a gift from my mother. I turned to Psalm 23, which reads, “…Yeah, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil: for thou art with me…” I read it twice and I was instantly returned to calm because I knew that He was in control. It was as if I heard him whisper, “Peace be still” (Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm, Mark 4:39).

This episode in my life reminds me of Ramses II (ruler of Kemet from 1304 BC to 1237 BC) during The Battle of Kadesh, which was the decisive war between the Egyptians and the Hittites for control over Syria. It took place in the spring of the fifth year of the reign of Ramses II. Like me, Ramses II found himself in mortal danger. Accordingly, he makes a plea to his god, Amun, which was a god in Egyptian mythology that in the form of Amun-Ra became the focus of the most complex system of theology in Ancient Egypt. His position as King of Gods developed to the point of virtual monotheism where other gods became manifestations of him. With Osiris, Amun-Ra is the most widely recorded of the Egyptian Gods. The following is synopsis of Ramses’ II partition to Amun-Ra during the Battle of Kadesh:

Here I stand, All alone; There is no one at my side, My warriors and chariots a feared, Have deserted me, none heard My voice, when to the cravens I, their king, for succor, cried. But I find that Amun's grace Is better far to me Than a million fighting men and ten thousand chariots be. Yea, better than ten thousand, be they brother, be they son, When with hearts that beat like one, Together for to help me they are gathered in one place. The might of men is nothing, it is Amun who is lord, What has happened here to me is according to your word, And I will not now transgress your command; But alone, as here I stand, To you my cry I send, Unto earth's extremest end, Saying, 'Help me, father Amun, against the Hittite horde."'

It is important to note that in the three religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, whenever the faithful pray, regardless of language, they always end their prayer by saying Amen. There is no linguistic translation for Amen, because it is a name and not a word. The origin of Amen is Egyptian, for Amen was taken from the name of Amun-Ra. The Jews have learned about Amen during their sojourn in Egypt, which lasted for four generations. The name of Amun, which means the Hidden One, in Ancient Egypt, lives on.

Latter Years
In January 2007, I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. I have one chance for a cure. The doctor explained that the Whipple procedure was a twelve hour surgical operation that is fraught with the risk of fatal consequences. The Whipple procedure surgery is a complicated process that requires a great deal of skill to perform. I often refer to this has a reengineering of my digestive system.

However, this operation was the best hope for complete eradication of the cancer that was wrecking havoc on my pancreas. With only one day notice, I began preparation for this uncertain outcome. On the night before the operation, I organized my financial, legal, and other matters and spent many quiet hours alone in pray. In addition, I organized the things that I would take with me to the hospital. The obvious items including a tooth brush and tooth paste, slippers and pajamas were packed. Other important items included my cell phone, which included my contact directory and music files with an attachable speaker system.The next morning, I arrived at the Howard University Hospital early. The twelve hour surgery was completed without incident. After, spending several hours in the recovery room, I was wheeled to the intensive care unit (ICU). During the first night in the ICU the pain was immense.

Songs of Praise
The combination of pray, morphine and songs of praise got me through one of the most difficult evenings of my life. Thanks to my cell phone and handy dandy mini- speaker system, I was comforted with songs of praise and worship all night long. Examples include Yolanda Adams’ “The Battle is the Lord’s”, Richard Smallwood’s “Angels, ” and “Changed”, by Tramine Hawkins to name a few. As many of you know, Richard Smallwood is a Howard University alumnus. The lyrics from his song “Angles” have special meaning. In part, he says, “unseen hands guide me through the pain and darkness. Yes, angles are watching over me.”

Ironically, ancient Egyptians regarded Amun-Ra as the “hidden one”, which the ancient Egyptians prayed to in the time of trouble. This seems to be more than just an ironic coincidence to Smallwood’s lyrics. The next morning the nurses stated that the praise and worship service through song that I conducted all night long was a blessing to them.

I was present at Walter Hawkins’ last concert in April 2010, which was held at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. This was Bishop Hawkins’ last public performance prior to succumbing to a two year battle against pancreatic cancer. His words and songs of praise and worship still ring in my ears. He shared his battle with the audience and told us that God is in the business of performing marvels. He thanked God for allowing him to live. I thank God for Bishop Hawkins’ legacy of songs of praise, faith and worship. Some of my favorite songs include Marvelous, Going Up Yonder, Be Grateful, Never Alone, and When the Battle is Over.


My prayer is simple; Thy will be done. This has become a litmus test for the balance of my journey. I had to turn it over to Him and trust that it would be alright. Because like songstress Yolanda Adams’ said the Battle is the Lord’s. There is power in turning it over. Hallelujah!

The doctors said that my recovery might take six months. Through the grace of God I was back to light duty at work in six weeks. During the time at home I prayed, shouted and worshipped Him unceasingly. I thanked Him not only for what He had done but for what He was going to do.

More than a year after the surgery I was leaving a meeting and one of my Howard University co-workers stopped me to inquiry about my health. I indicated that I was doing fine. He mentioned that I helped him to renew his faith. In amazement, I asked him how this was so. He said it was because of what I said to him during a visit he made to my hospital room. I asked, what did I say? He stated that I said that I knew that there were Angels watching over me (undoubtedly my ancient ancestors, my father and mother, and a host of others). He then said that he could see the peace and calm in my face. Moreover, a year later he was a witness to my marvelous recovery.

It has been more than three and a half years since my diagnosis. The statistics suggest that the survival rate beyond five years is around five percent. The doctors and nurses all marveled at my recovery. Some called it a miracle. But, I know that Jesus is the marvel worker and I am just the vessel. It is with gratitude that I thank the nurses and doctors at Howard University Hospital.

A note of special is extended to my surgeon, Dr. Wayne Frederick, a gifted prodigy that journeyed from his home in Trinidad at the age of 16 to begin his undergraduate education at Howard University. He then went on to graduate from Howard’s medical school. He is a talented Surgical Oncologist and acting director of Howard University’s Cancer Center. Dr. Frederick is the protégé of the legendary Dr. LaSalle Leffall, who is currently the Charles R. Drew Professor of Surgery at Howard University Hospital. It is noteworthy that Dr. Leffall was trained by the iconic Dr. Charles Drew, a legendary pioneer in the field of blood transfusion. I thank God for the skill, dedication, and compassion of these exemplars of medical excellence. Their work is consistent with the spirit of Imhotep (2655-2600 BC) who was one of the world's most famous ancients from Kemet and is often recognized as the world's first doctor, a priest, scribe, sage, poet, astrologer, and a vizier and chief minister. Imhotep is considered the father of medicine. In fact, Dr. Eric Anthony Joseph, a scholar from Lincoln University asserts the following:

When the Egyptians crossed the Mediterranean Sea, becoming the foundation of the Greek culture, Imhotep's teachings were absorbed and sampled there. Yet, as the modern Greeks were determined to assert that they were the originators of almost everything, Imhotep was forgotten for thousands of years. In his place the legendary figure Hippocrates, who came 2,000 years after Imhotep, became known "incorrectly" as the "Father of Medicine."

This falsehood is so woven into the pedagogical fabric of western higher learning that upon graduation from western medical schools students must or will take this erroneous and rightly called "Hippocratic" oath! What a hypocrisy made by my so-called learned scholars who continue to perpetrate this known "lie" to the next generation of physicians

In conclusion, although the journey is not over, I have learned that faith and grace are enduring dimensions of a God-center life. Five themes emerge that are critical to staying on course. These include:

  • The power of prayer

  • Reading His Word

  • Turning it over to Him

  • Songs of Praise

  • Unwavering Faith in His Divinity

The most important of these is Faith. Hebrew 11:6 says, Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that he exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.”

Praise the Lord my Rock, Redeemer, Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I lift Him up. Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Amen.

Yours in the spirit of Ma’at (truth, balance, order, law, morality, and justice.)

Clarence Jones, CPA

1 comment:

Judi Moore Latta, Ph.D. said...

Thank you for recounting your faith journey and for connecting the ancient wonders of our history to your story. This is an incredible reminder of our blessings and of how critical it is to keep the story alive.