7 Days in the Fire
I remember coming home from leave once and Mama said, “Helen, you walk with your head held high as if you have a book on top of your head.” Obviously, we had both forgotten about our tribe walking into church and Daddy insisting on us walking with our heads held high. I obeyed my earthly father and heavenly Father and wrote the book I promised God I’d write, then published it in 2008.
After I published 7 Days in the Fire, God ever so gently began revealing what was written in the book, particularly my traumatic upbringing. Then, my healing process began. On the 39th anniversary of my grandfather, Chester Noel’s death (02/07/2007), I had a somatic flashback where the Holy Spirit revealed the trauma I suffered as a toddler when my grandfather scared me and left me sleepless. Anniversary reactions are common in trauma victims. Papa was a victim of trauma, abused substances, and suffered from insomnia. He routinely chewed tobacco and spat in a spittoon. When I reexperienced trauma, for seven straight days and nights I suffered from insomnia, coughed, and spat up phlegm. Ironically, like Papa, I resorted to spitting in a cup.
At the end of the seven days, I called saints to pray and fast with me. As midnight approached, leaders from my church and a coworker came by and prayed for me. I slept like a baby that night and the next morning as soon as my feet hit the floor the Holy Spirit said (in a commanded voice), “Write” and I wrote more than ¾ th’s of the book in one day. On the 40th anniversary of Papa’s death, I published the book. Biblically, the number 40 generally symbolizes a period of testing, trials, and then, finally triumph.
"Sleepless and in the grip of a serious illness for seven days, Helen D. Noel experienced “hell on earth” and lived to write the book she felt called by God to write. Combining faith, family lore, and service to God, church, and country she “talks story” the way only an African American woman committed to living her truth in all ways could."