Lift him up!
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The back doors of the of the church burst open to reveal a lively black congregation singing along to a choir, “He is worthy”. The pastor stands in the pulpit while a flamboyant choir director conducts the massive sound. Liturgical dancers dressed in white decorate the isles doing large expressive movements. Church mothers are sprinkled throughout sitting and standing in their colorfully extravagant church hats, fanning themselves. From behind we see a figure making its way down the isle in a green floral dress, hat to match. As the figure passes, church mothers stop their fanning to gawk and begin gossiping with other sisters. The men stand shaking their heads in disapproval. The liturgical dancers clear to the side of the isle, panting and out of breathe, wiping the sweat from their shocked faces. The pastor signals for the music to stop and we pan around to see that the figure is a young teenage boy dressed as a woman. You can see expressed in the pastors eyes a deep anger and sadness indicating a closeness to the young boy as he yells from his directly from the pulpit: c’mon praise him! The choir resumes to the chorus of the song, “c’mon praise him” The deacons and ushers rush to encircle the young boy with the quickness of the Holy Spirit and begin pointing as the words “c’mon praise him” spew from their mouths followed by 3 consecutive claps. Each clap causes the boy to cringe and duck down. Afraid, the boy tries to run out of the circle but is blocked at every turn. The pastor steps out of his pulpit, bursts through the circle and lays hands on the boys forehead and pushes him to the ground.The ushers quickly run in to catch him and lower him down. The choirs vs quickly changes to, “lift him up” as they motion for the ushers to now raise him into the air unto the lord. Over powered, he is picked up in a prostrate position desperately struggling to remain on the ground at the same time, trying to keep his dress from flying up. They outstretch his arms like a crucifix as the choir bellows, higher, higher, HIGHER. He is spun around, lowered and rapidly swung back up. In the congregation we see one brother shouting in the corner while a busty woman jumps up and down speaking in tongues interjecting, thank you Jesus, praise you lord in between. The boy is finally set back down to the floor. In tears, he burst through the congregation, ushers and finally the large church doors. The screen flashes white and we cut to a pile of gems trickling through a young boys fingers at a museum gift shop. (Image copyright 2019 Gullah-Creole art of Diane Brittan Dunham)