Yesterday the world learned of the passing of one of our great Souls, Maya Angelou. Angelou once told of the time early in her life when she was raped by her mother’s boyfriend. Days later, the man was killed by a mob, and little Maya thought that it was her voice that had killed him. She stopped speaking and lived with her grandmother as a mute for 6 years. One night, while braiding her hair, her grandmother said: “Sister, Mama don’t care what these people say, about you must be an idiot, you must be a moron–because you can’t talk. Sister, Mama don’t care. Mama know when you and the good Lord get ready, you gonna be a teacher. Sister, you gonna teach all over this world.” Angelou later reflected: “I used to sit there and think: this poor ignorant woman. Doesn’t she know I am never going to speak?” (listen to the entire talk here)
“Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1 in the Christian scriptures).
Angelou went on in her life to teach in Israel, Egypt, England, Italy and all over the United States. Every honor she received made her think of her grandmother, who loved her, made her grateful to be able to love, because, as she says, “love liberates. Love does not just hold. Love liberates.”
Love liberates us to life, Angelou declares. Authentic love releases us to the possibilities that may lie within us. That kind of love is risky, and is willing to take the risk on the loved one–that there is something within the loved one that may be of value to more than the loved one. When the loved one falls and stumbles, authentic love doesn’t say “I told you so.” Authentic love welcomes the loved one home, shares food and comfort, and releases the loved one again.
“Love liberates. It doesn’t bind. I love you. I love you if you are in China, I love you if you are across town. I would like to be near you. I like to have you near me. But that’s not possible now. So, go.”
In the flush of love’s light
we dare be brave
And suddenly we see
that love costs all we are
and will ever be.
Yet, it is only love
that sets us free.