Thursday, 29 May 2014

In Honour of Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou, Famed Poet and Author, Dead at 86

In honour of Angelou's death, let's celebrate her life and remember her inspiration and wisdom. 

We are told King Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived. Wisdom's price is far above rubies. The book of Proverbs tells us that wisdom builds her house, that wisdom is the principal thing and we are encouraged that in all our getting, seeking and aspiring to get and to seek after wisdom. 

Maya Angelou who left us this Wednesday, having fulfilled her life's work, and may we all do the same, shared her wisdom with us all. 

Using the art of communication she made an indelible impact on the world. A philanthropist, humanitarian, educator,  author, playwright, teacher, civil rights activist, speaker, actress and filmmaker —she was a woman who used every means and method to get her story and message across.

In a world overflowing with information, Maya Angelou always drew us in with her masterful story-telling. Now we all know why the caged bird sings.

I remember going to see her perform here in London in 2007 and being so uplifted by her speech, her aura, her spirit and her compassion. Compassion for humanity. She was not only a great and inspiring poet but her generosity of heart really came forth. There are many gifted people whose abilities have promoted them but whose characters do not have the power to move you. To move you to be bigger. To be better. To love more. To give more. Maya did all that. 

Like Maya, I share a love of reading and as a small child I was never happier than when I was locked away in a different world from everyone else, created by the author.  I also loved to write as a child. In fact my mother recently told me that in one of my early school reports my teacher wrote that "Patricia shows all the signs of being a writer." I've since learned that our abilities and talents are signs of our callings, vocation and life purpose.  We often demonstrate these abilities in childhood when all we know to be is ourselves. 

Listening to Maya reading her poetry that night, as well as reading her books for myself and learning of her life story, I am encouraged to be me. And only me. Never a poor imitation of someone else. My gifts are mine to use. 

The wonderful thing is this, the more we use our gifts, the better we get, and we actually receive more besides. It's like our Creator sees we have faithfully used the gift He entrusted to us and gifts us with even more. Maya says it in her way "You can't use up creativity. The more you use the more you have."

As amazing as Maya Angelou's legacy is we should know that she had no particular advantage over any of us. In fact, during her 86 years she had to rise above sexual abuse, poverty and prostitution to become the person we knew. Yet, she came here for the same reason we all did, to make a lasting impact, to make a mark, to affect other people's lives for the better, to be an instrument of compassion and peace and to use every means available and every personal gift, talent and resource to do so. 

We can all be encouraged that despite the challenges, difficulties and obstacles life throws in our path, we can rise. 

So never mind the nay-sayers, the well-intentioned, the fault-finders or the dream-stealers, go out and take hold of life with both hands. Anything else isn't playing full out. 

Through it all, still we rise. 

Thank you Maya Angelou. I'm encouraged. 

Patricia Benjamin
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