Rainbow in the Sky: The Wisdom and Spirit of Maya Angelou – Susan’s Newsletter February 2015

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Susan’s Thursday Morning Note February 26, 2015
Quotes by Maya Angelou on beauty of soul.  Beauty of life.  Beauty of aging.  Beauty of being alive.
Good morning!  Winds.  Cold.  Creaks.  Spilled coffee.  End of February.  All synonymous words.  My angel has arrived at my door again this morning, slightly irritated with the brutal winds on her face, but determined to arrive at my door nonetheless.  Handing me this gift of today.  Along with a little glimpse of sunshine.  Bringing again hope that spring will eventually arrive.  Sitting in the stream of sunlight on my table is collection of quotes by Maya Angelou, Rainbow in the Cloud: The Wisdom and Spirit of Maya Angelou.  I first became interested in her writings and poetry after hearing her read a poem written in honor of Nelson Mandela for his memorial.  Maya worked directly with Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, each during their assassinations.  She worked for Civil Rights her entire life.  To enter her world and begin to have her writings possibly affect you here is a link to her website: http://www.mayaangelou.com/.  She has been honored for her work with over 50 honorary doctorate degrees before she died last year.   Here also is a link to Maya reading her tribute honoring Nelson Mandela, His Day is Done.  Her quotes hold depth.  Depth of her abuse as a child.  Depth of her seeing leaders who were her friends assassinated.  Depth of her  perspective as she views life in her old age.  Depth on her continual theme of self-worth and the beauty of each individual soul.

I believe that each of us comes from the Creator trailing wisps of glory.

Stand up straight and realize who you are, that you tower over your circumstances.  You are a child of God.  Stand up straight.

A child’s talent to endure stems from her ignorance of alternatives.

You have been paid for.  Each of you, Black, White, Brown, Yellow, Red – whatever pigment you use to describe yourselves – has been paid for.  But for the sacrifices made by some of your ancestors, you would not be here; they have paid for you.  So, when you enter a challenging situation, bring them on the stage with you; let their distant voices add timbre and strength to your words. For it is your job to pay for those who are yet to come.

Whenever I begin to question whether God exists, I look up to the sky and surely there, right there, between the sun and moon, stands my grandmother, singing a long meter hymn, a song somewhere between a moan and a lullaby and I know faith is the evidence of things unseen.

The quality of strength lined with tenderness is an unbeatable combination.

The human heart is so delicate and sensitive that it always needs some tangible encouragement to prevent it from faltering in its labor.  The human heart is so robust, so tough, that once encouraged it beats its rhythm with a loud unswerving insistency.

You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.

Dignity doesn’t just mean always being stiff and composed.  It means a belief in oneself, that one is worthy of the best.  Dignity means that what I have to say is important, and I will say it when it’s important for me to say it.  Dignity really means that I deserve the best treatment I can receive.  And that I have the responsibility to give the best treatment I can to other people.

I do my best because I’m counting on you counting on me.

If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.

The idea of overcoming is always fascinating to me.  It’s fascinating because few of us realize how much energy we have expended just to be here today.  I don’t think we give ourselves enough credit for the overcoming.

Don’t be a prisoner of ignorance.  The world is larger, far more complicated, and far more wonderful than ignorance allows.

When I sense myself filling with rage at the absence of a beloved, I try as soon as possible to remember that my concerns and questions, my efforts and answers should be focused on what I did or can learn from my departed love.  What legacy was left which can help me in the art of living a good life?

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

My wish for you is that you continue.  Continue to be who and how you are, to astonish a mean world with your acts of kindness. Continue to allow humor to lighten the burden of your tender heart.

Coming events will affect me, however my prayer and determination are that they will not reduce me.

Each of us has the right and the responsibility to assess the roads which lie ahead, and those over which we have traveled, and if the future road looms ominous or unpromising, and the roads back uninviting, then we need to gather our resolve and, carrying only the necessary baggage, step off that road into another direction.  If the new choice is also unpalatable, without embarrassment, we must be ready to change that as well.

We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.

Every person needs to take one day away.  A day in which one consciously separates the past from the future…Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for.  Each of us needs to withdraw form the cares which will not withdraw from us…A day away acts as a spring tonic.  It can dispel rancor, transform indecision, and renew the spirit.

My hand is at the small of your back; I may let you stumble, but I will never let you fall.

I’ll protest like the dickens, but I don’t complain.  After hearing someone complain, my grandmother would say, “There are people all over the world, Black and White, rich and poor, who went to sleep when that person went to sleep, and they have never awakened.  They would give anything for five minutes of what that person was complaining about.”

Mostly, what I have learned so far about aging, despite the creakiness of one’s bones and the cragginess of one’s once-silken skin, is this: do it.  By all means, do it.

Words that will now resonate in our minds.  Change us.  Words of those who have suffered and continued to pursue the beauty of life.  Words that are now embedded in our minds.  Strength for our souls.  We have all been handed the gift of moments of life again today.  Moments to feel the harsh wind.  Moments to look beyond the harshness of the weather and how circumstances seem in the winter to finding the beauty of these moments.  Little firemen playing pretend violins.  Dirty fingernails.  Little dark eyes.  Spilled coffee.  All because we get to live today.   Get to.  Our gift.  The winds blow.  Time blows.  The winds of  time…constantly blowing.  Will we consciously make an effort to grasp a few moments as they pass?  Our sand timers constantly running.  We must make deliberate choice to capture some of the sand as it passes.  To notice the chubby little hands.  To notice the birds as they form such beauty in the sky together.  To notice the little lost bird trying to catch up with his friends.  The little one who is always late.  Taking the time to smile at that little friend who I seem to completely understand.  Flying freely, but barely keeping up.  The beauty of quiet.  Today.  So thankful for the chance to make today worthy of the gift.  Tonight we all will have the chance to have words carved in stone.  Words for our epitaph.  Will there be words worthy of inscription?  Moments today captured and meaningful?

Thank you for letting me read and write for you.  For again letting me enter your Thursday.  For coming into our beautiful store for your books and toys.  I hope you can come over soon.  Enter our world and escape yours for a few moments.  We’ll have the coffee and smiles.  And you never know, you may find the book that changes the rest of your life!  Susan

Latin for this week:
Aequam memento rebus in arduis sevare mentem – “Remember when life’s path is steep to keep your mind even.”  Horace
Fluctuat nec mergitur – “It is tossed by the waves but it does not sink.”
prodigiosus – amazing, unnatural, wonderful, miraculous
 
Works Cited:
Angelou, Maya.  Rainbow in the Cloud:  The Wisdom and Spirit of Maya Angelou.  New York.  Random House.  2014.