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By Crystal Rook
The first rose I will give You will be the Prickly Wild Rose to commemorate the struggles, mountains, disappointments, battles, joys, freedom, and demands for respect and justice while capturing the human experiences in Your voice. I realize You may not want to remember those times that were painful, that brought You tears and headaches, especially when You didn’t know what to do as a single parent. But God. You had to hold God’s Hand for God never let You go. Single mother, yet Never Alone. Sexually Traumatized. Prickly Wild to the touch, yet, it is still a Rose. In All its glory. A Rose. Like You. A Queen. In Your Glory that took 76 years to fully manifest.
The second rose I will give You will be the Memorial Rose to remember the sound of Your voice that will forever be in the Earth. The groans, riffs, the power, the press, the push, the strength, the joys, the love, freedom, the respect, and the gut-wrench it took for You to sing these songs to get You over. We feel them every time we hear them. My dear Queen, You showed us that Victory was not only possible, but imminent. My dear Queen, because You dared to let your imagination flow freely, we are able to walk and run freely in our bodies that these evil systems try to oppress daily, on which “we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair” (2 Corinthians 4:8 NRSV). As the Memorial Rose that You are, You belted out “Be not dismayed or ever be tired. God will take care of you.”
The last rose I will give You will be the Golden Celebration rose to celebrate all of You, the authentic You. The anointed, miraculous, earth-shaken gift that was made into caramel, woman flesh that is walking on the streets of gold. You didn’t care what nobody said about the size of your arms nor the plunge of Your cleavage. You wore the fur coat and took it off like “Here I Am & What?!” You loved your body regardless of its size, and that taught us big girls and women to do the same. Queen, You showed us that we too are Queens, and our bodies are to be respected, adored, loved, and touched on our own terms. You were an example of what it looks like to see ourselves through the eyes of God. You rendered unto us true Imago Dei moments on stage every time you stepped on it, and this is why You are Our Golden Celebration Rose.
Although You are not in flesh incarnate with us anymore, You are now a Red Rose in our Mother’s Garden. You go ahead on and Sway from side to side. Bloom Baby Bloom. Enjoy the Ruah as it brushes against your green petals everyday Queen. We’ll see you in due time.
Elder Crystal Rook, M.Div., MACC is an Activist, Writer, rising Scholar, Community Organizer, Womanist Theologian, and ordained Elder. She is the Creative Director & Consultant of Apostolic R.E.B.E.L. (Revolutionary. Evolving. Balance. Empower. Liberate.), a faith-based organization that provides mentorship, project management, and workshops for leadership and laypersons, particularly for thinking Apostolic and Pentecostals who desire to create spaces of transformative ministries. Elder Rook is a Writer for Fidelia Magazine, a Young Clergy Women, International online magazine. She is currently curating a blog series called ‘Tanks & Flowers’.
Elder Rook’s work is to create spaces for dialogues and action of communal love, healing, liberation, good & healthy foods, and cooperative economics so people, especially Black women can be liberated so they may teach and liberate others. Elder Rook believes Jesus-believers are the hands and feet of Jesus and must be active in both prayer and working in the vineyard to better the lives of humanity. Elder Rook truly believes that in God’s Word there is life, deliverance, transformation, and healing, which she desires to see these manifested in fullness in the lives of God’s creation.
Her goal as an activist and community organizer is to engage multiple voices to reveal the oppressive systemic designs that affects people regardless of socioeconomic status, gender, or ethnicity, and to create sustainable solutions for all humanity. She passionately works in the intersections of Food Justice, Faith, Ecology, Race, Spirituality, & Body Politics, particularly in the lives of Black women. She has had the opportunity to present her research on the intersections of Black women, Food, and Body Image at the Yale Food Systems Symposium. She is a 2017 and 2015 fellow of Princeton Theological Seminary Black Theology Leadership Institute. Elder Rook is a member of Church Women United Forsyth Unit and is the recipient of the Church Women United 2016 Young Key Woman Award. She also serves on the boards of Annie’s Hope, a shelter for domestic abused women and Winston-Salem Foundation for Women and Girls of Color.
She pursued theological education through Apex School of Theology where she received a Masters in Christian Counseling in 2012 and a Masters of Divinity in 2015 with a concentration in Food and Faith from Wake Forest University School of Divinity. Her food and faith journey led her to attend and graduate from Urban Farm School through the Forsyth County Cooperative Extension in November 2016.