When our son was starting to study the classics in high school, one of the books he was assigned was Maya Angelou’s ‘I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.’ He said to me, ‘mom, why is she so famous?’
I replied, ‘She’s one of a group of women who overcame great hardship, then waited for their souls to heal so they could make a place in the world. Instead of breaking them, their tragedies made them stronger.’
Harriet Tubman, Helen Keller, even Princess Diana—these are examples of women who wait to heal, a few among the inspiring many. They are the soul healers. As Angelou said, ‘If your soul needs healing send it my way. I’ll give it some rainbow.’ (Or words to that effect.)
In ‘On the Pulse of Morning,’ she writes:
‘The rock cries out to us, clearly, forcefully,
Come, you may stand upon my
Back and face your distant destiny,
But seek no haven in my shadow.
I will give you no hiding place down here.’
Today that’s called ‘tough love,’ but we don’t have to invent it. Life gives it to us. But soul healing is really a chance to start over. That’s what these great healers lead us to. Angelou certainly understood that, and that, at its core, it’s about dreams:
‘Lift up your eyes upon
This day breaking for you.
Give birth again
To the dream.’
It’s also about coming to rest in oneself, finding that eternal song that we all sing but seldom hear:
‘Across the wall of the world,
A River sings a beautiful song. It says,
Come, rest here by my side.’
It’s about walking even when you don’t think you can, stepping out with courage when things are so dark that you have never known such darkness:
‘The horizon leans forward,
Offering you space to place new steps of change,
Here on the pulse of this fine day
You may have the courage
To look up and out and upon me, the
Rock, the River, the Tree, your country.’
It’s also about making one’s goals real, by first seeing that they are part of the river of life, and thus always changing and never changing.
‘They hear the first and last of every Tree
Speak to humankind today. Come to me, here beside the River.
Plant yourself beside the River.’
The words in this diary are all taken from the Pulse of Morning. Maya Angelou completed her life this week, leaving behind a legacy of strength and inner beauty that is deeply empowering and freeing. May she live on in our hearts. She certainly will in mine. She was a woman who waited, it turned out, also for me. I have found much healing for my own soul in her words.
Thank you, Maya.
Whitley and I have written a book about the soul journey we have taken together. It’s called Miraculous Journey, and it’s available in hardcover, softcover and as an ebook.
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