I fell in love with Maya Angelou, probably in 1981. I can’t recall exactly how I came across her, but somehow I did. The first time I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings aired on national television, in my home, I was not only hooked but I felt a shift, a shutter, and a lift in my consciousness.
Watching the film introduced me to something that was bigger than my world, bigger than the life I knew, from what I’d been taught in history books or high school classes. It was life changing because Maya Angelou spoke of truth, spoke with words that were vibrant and voluptuous – alive. The words were honorable and inclusive and from that moment I followed, I watched, I listened and read what I could find. I was particularly drawn to the poems. Poems like I Shall Not Be Moved and Still I Rise because they supported my spirit in ways I’d never known. I felt connected.
I was lucky enough to see her a few times over the years, blessed enough to hear that thick strong voice rumble out of speakers that filled the room with words of power and piercing light. Twice at The Bushnell in Hartford, and once at a university where so many people attended, it had to be televised into additional rooms. Those times were serendipitous gifts from the Universe.
What have I learned from Maya Angelou? Much. That the heart matters, that to express our spirit is of critical importance to humanity’s interdependence. I learned that when the wind is blowing and the storms are brutal, our soul remains rooted in ALL. ALL was a description of God that Dr. Angelou gave during a fairly recent interview on Super Soul Sunday. And after that storm passes, and it will always pass, we can step outside and say “Boy that wind done shook some – didn’t it? We’re alright.”