Friday, May 30, 2014

'And Still I Rise'

It is hard to imagine there is anyone left who did not hear of the death of Maya Angelou. What was it that made her appeal to so many people of such diversity? I was shocked to hear she had died like somehow she was immortal in the midst of the rest of us. Yes, she was 86 years old and our days are numbered, each and everyone of us--even Maya Angelou.

I was speaking to someone yesterday about that. She said the Word of God in the Scriptures have stood the test of time--remained meaningful for all these years. She also spoke of how the words shared of Maya Angelou, as those of St. Vincent de Paul, resonate with many people.

I reflected more on this...on why Maya Angelou resonates with so many people. Years ago, I read Why Does the Caged Bird Sing and her other autobiographical books. Her childhood was not a pleasant one at all, but one filled with so much suffering. Yet, her final tweet was, "Listen to yourself and in that quietude you might hear the voice of God." 

How did this woman of God rise from her suffering and become a beacon of hope through her poetry? That, I believe, is the million dollar question! I recently read The Gift of Adversity: The Unexpected Benefits of Life's Difficulties, Setbacks and Imperfections. The author tries to share what Maya Angelou had achieved (not her specifically!). 

We all have difficulties, setbacks, imperfections and some even have traumas. What does Maya Angelou say?  And still I rise!

Isn't that the message of Jesus Christ? Romans 8:28 says, "We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose." Keep reading to the end of that chapter. Does it say we will be spared from any hardships? Not in my Bible! It says nothing will separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (verse 39). 

Maya Angelou suffered because of others and was a sinner too. Much like the rest of us, as Pope Francis would probably remind us. Her interviews over the years are full of her faith and spiritual songs. She did not shy away from the questions about dark times in her life, but showed us how none of those things separated her from the love of God.

As we recall or endure dark times, may we unite our voice with Maya and those who walked before her and say, "And still I rise!"

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