When I was a young child, my granny; Lulundy, would give us tonics. All kinds of tonics, depending on what ailment we seemed to be “coming down with,” as well as what the season was; the, time of year. She was quite the mixologist of herbs; various aromatic plants; and,  all types of substances. There was that AWFUL, for me, tasting mixture if we looked like we were coming down with a cold. And, then there was the Springtime “clean out.” And, the tiny cloth bag, placed on a string, around our necks, at the beginning of Winter, there in Chicago Illinois, filled with the dried roots of Asafetida and other such dried shoots-( to, ward off the effects of those brutal Winters). Lulundy, migrated from deep in the country, of Birmingham Alabama. And, I doubt if ever, a doctor came… to their Sharecroppers Home. She, her family, the Community, had to learn about and how to use other ways to attend to their health needs. God had Placed at their hands the best medicine cabinet; the Woods, filled with vegetation, plants and such. From early on, in my life, Lulundy, my walking talking Oral Historian, would share with me what she, they, did. There were the salves made from the residue of the soap scum that floated on top of the water after washing dishes. Mixed with various herbs, It, then, became, a Topical; a Healing Mixture. Cough syrups/tinctures were made. Digestive disorders were cured. All types of ailments(muscular; internal; external)- were relieved.

And, so, this morning thinking about; being grateful for!, the rich history of healing Lulundy Shared with me I allowed her words of “elixirs of healing,” to carry me; guide me, to thoughts of the Elixir of Joy. Joy, that state of regalement; gladdening, brought on by hope.  Hope, me looking by faith rather than by sight. Yes…Hope. Lulundy taught me much about this curative measure also. Living to her 100th year, Lulundy gained; earned, wisdom. This wisdom, lived, displayed, and witnessed by me and others, came in the form of…Believe. Her walk said…loud and clear to me…BELIEVE!!!!!! She believed in God. She believed in goodness-(God’s eternal goodness. Her own goodness, and the Innate goodness of others). She believed that God allowed horrendous occurrences so God could bring about  goodness from those incidences. She said, it was called Divine Providence whereby God allows, what I might term, the despicable, and brings about great blessings. Indeed, my granny was a wise; learned, Woman. Her love; complete love, was her Breastplate of Identity. It was from that innate quality to see good within the most despicable situations that Stood her Steady for generation after generation after generation. The 1st generation of non-slaves; both her parents had been slaves. Sharecropper’s child. A child field worker(Cotton-picker). A child-parent-(at 10-years old her mother died in childbirth. The baby lived. My Granny instantly became the female head of the family. She said: “the folk-women & men of the Community- taught she and her twin-brother how to take care of the younger ones as well as her blind Dad”). A bereaved widow-(at 33-years old with 5-small children). A bereaved parent-(buried at various times during her faith walk: an 11-year old daughter; a 41-year old daughter; a 75-year old son). And, add to this, what we… modern thinking and without being conscious of it-(privileged beyond measure) folk… would call the indignities of just living. I can Absolutely say/testify, that in the 40-years I was blessed…Privileged to have her physically Part of my life she showed me how to heal using the Elixir of Joy.

There is an Africa American(Negro) Spiritual that comes to mind right now. Perhaps it’s because as a child, many times, I would hear Lulundy; my Granny, sing this song…in those rich contralto tones of hers, sung from within the deepest part of  her heart. I share these words with you now.


Balm In Gilead


There is a Balm in Gilead
To make the wounded whole;
There is a Balm in Gilead
To Heal the sin sick soul.

Sometimes I feel discouraged,
And think my work’s in vain,
But then the Holy Spirit
Revives my soul again.


On today, with this message from God, through my Granny this a:m, I take the Elixir of Joy…and, let the Hope contained Therein… Fill my Day.

Love, Shirl

Please Note:

The picture that accompanies this Blog Post was taken by Silas Connor on the occasion of Lula Lundy’s-(Lulundy, My Granny) 99th Birthday Celebration



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