The World as God Intends

The Long Island is in dry dock six stories below the light-filled apartment of Rev. Yvonne V. Delk. Thick, muscular ropes coil on her decks. Sea birds drop shells to crack along her steel girders. Tugboats rub against her shoulders, waiting for the Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Company to complete repairs and lead her out to sea.

After 36 years of active ministry in the great cities of the North, Delk has come home to Norfolk, Virginia; home to the Elizabeth River and the Hampton Roads; and home to "Millionaires Row" where, as a child in the segregated South, she was never allowed to walk. "We were not able to come anywhere in this area without folk assuming you were a maid. Even in the ‘80s we used to ride by here at Christmas and be followed by security guards. That's my walk route now. It's got lovely benches and I can see the birds and the ducks. To retire here, to look out on Millionaires Row, makes me feel wonderful."

To sit in the presence of Yvonne Delk is to sit with living history. Not just of her life, but of the lives of her ancestors, and perhaps even of the land itself. Her skin is the shifting browns of the Nile. Her eyes flash like passing storm clouds with just a hint of blue. She wears her African beads like jewels; her hair like a crown. She is regal; a spiritual phenomenon, a mighty wind.

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Sojourners Magazine May-June 1999
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