The Spiritual Code

The Spiritual Code

A celebration of Black History Month. Truly we live in treacherous times. History will record our days of dealing with the pandemic, a rise for justice, and a deadly insurrection against democracy. Today, I would like us to draw on the faith that was expressed by our ancestors when they rose about their stations and left us a road map on how to be fierce and courageous in treacherous times. Most could not read and write but they used their voices to sing and enter the freedom fight. They transcended what others would call limitations to control their destiny with both a heavenly and earthly message. Hear their code inside the poem,” The Spiritual Code.”


The Spiritual Code

The code, the rhythm of the soul. The message between

heaven and my goal. “Swing low sweet chariot, coming

for to carry me home.”

Let’s get our stuff together, pack and don’t be slow.

My chariot is awaiting. To the North, the North we go.

The code, the beat of my soul. The message between

heaven and my goal. “Follow the drinking gourd. Follow

the drinking gourd.”

When we look up into the heavens, the drinking gourd

is seen. The dipper gives sips of freedom to slaves

following its stream.

The code, the rhythm of my soul. The message between

heaven and my goal. “Steal away, Steal away, Steal away

to Jesus.”

Good bye my love, I hope to survive. If not, I know that

Jesus is on the other side. I hear it in the song. I feel it

in the beat. “I ain’t got long to stay here.”

By June Rochelle McIntosh

February 12, 2021©



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Reference Negro Spirituals Pike, The Jubilee Singers, p. 198. Havens, Songs of the Civil War, 1991. Willis, Swing Low, Sweet Chariot, after 1865

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