Inner Michael » Thank you Maya Angelou

Thank you Maya Angelou

Thank you Maya Angelou.

Thank you for speaking of and for the pain of the world and the beauty and for framing it in unforgettable art.

For the courage to speak your truth in a way that could be heard. One has to know there were horrors in silent shreiking that you left unsaid in anger, hatred, and longing for retribution. But you were heard. And we learned. You were heard because of a quiet dignity that was so powerful that your voice couldn’t help but penetrate the silence.

For your words, your beauty, your wisdom. For the stamina to witness cruelty in its most heinous form. For standing in the fire of the Jim Crow South and bearing witness to the intractable shadow of man. And for the courage to speak with a voice that very few can know.
May you rest well from a life well lived and a love well shared.


Maya Angelou too, had an Earth Song:
We, this people, on a small and lonely planet
Traveling through casual space
Past aloof stars, across the way of indifferent suns
To a destination where all signs tell us
It is possible and imperative that we learn
A brave and startling truth

And when we come to it
To the day of peacemaking
When we release our fingers
From fists of hostility
And allow the pure air to cool our palms

When we come to it
When the curtain falls on the minstrel show of hate
And faces sooted with scorn are scrubbed clean
When battlefields and coliseum
No longer rake our unique and particular sons and daughters
Up with the bruised and bloody grass
To lie in identical plots in foreign soil

When the rapacious storming of the churches
The screaming racket in the temples have ceased
When the pennants are waving gaily
When the banners of the world tremble
Stoutly in the good, clean breeze

When we come to it
When we let the rifles fall from our shoulders
And children dress their dolls in flags of truce
When land mines of death have been removed
And the aged can walk into evenings of peace
When religious ritual is not perfumed
By the incense of burning flesh
And childhood dreams are not kicked awake
By nightmares of abuse

When we come to it
Then we will confess that not the Pyramids
With their stones set in mysterious perfection
Nor the Gardens of Babylon
Hanging as eternal beauty
In our collective memory
Not the Grand Canyon
Kindled into delicious color
By Western sunsets

Nor the Danube, flowing its blue soul into Europe
Not the sacred peak of Mount Fuji
Stretching to the Rising Sun
Neither Father Amazon nor Mother Mississippi who, without favor,
Nurture all creatures in the depths and on the shores
These are not the only wonders of the world

When we come to it
We, this people, on this minuscule and kithless globe
Who reach daily for the bomb, the blade and the dagger
Yet who petition in the dark for tokens of peace
We, this people on this mote of matter
In whose mouths abide cankerous words
Which challenge our very existence
Yet out of those same mouths
Come songs of such exquisite sweetness
That the heart falters in its labor
And the body is quieted into awe

We, this people, on this small and drifting planet
Whose hands can strike with such abandon
That in a twinkling, life is sapped from the living
Yet those same hands can touch with such healing, irresistible tenderness
That the haughty neck is happy to bow
And the proud back is glad to bend
Out of such chaos, of such contradiction
We learn that we are neither devils nor divines

When we come to it
We, this people, on this wayward, floating body
Created on this earth, of this earth
Have the power to fashion for this earth
A climate where every man and every woman
Can live freely without sanctimonious piety
Without crippling fear
When we come to it
We must confess that we are the possible
We are the miraculous, the true wonder of this world
That is when, and only when
We come to it.

~Maya Angelou



Maya Angelou


  1. Aberjhani said . . .

    Thank you, Rev. Kaufmann, for this moving tribute to Maya Angelou.

    I count myself among the lucky ones who first read I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings for a humanities class at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, FL, about a decade after the book’s original publication. I marveled at the way she was able to make joy and horror sing their separate songs with equally commanding power.

    My older sisters were all readers but none of them had read Maya Angelou until I enjoyed the pleasure of introducing them to her work. They knew the world Angelou described and admired the courage and genius that enabled her to put it on paper. Each of her memoirs provided me with a means of reconnecting with them, and with an opportunity to learn from a master storyteller and fellow lover of language.

    Although I never got to meet her in person, I was fortunate enough to hear her speak at a graduation ceremony one year. I also take some small pride in knowing we were both awarded a VIP Dot in the Michael Jackson Tribute Portrait by David Ilan. But above all else, I am simply grateful that she was in this world for so many of the same years as me.

    Posted June 5, 2014 at 6:30 pm | Permalink
  2. B. Kaufmann said . . .

    I love how you said: “I marveled at the way she was able to make joy and horror sing their separate songs with equally commanding power.” I think not only did she do that with ideas through the words she put on paper and with “the voice” of her individual poem(s,) but also with her voice when she read her work aloud for an audience.

    Her real genius was in her ability to, with both of those voices, sneak up on you, pluck you from your complacency and plunk you down hard somewhere you never expected to be and then, as her captive, filled you with the singing and stinging pathos of it.

    If I close my eyes I can clearly hear her voice and still marvel at how she paused in the perfect places, lowered that beautiful timbre for emphasis and embodied the words as the humanity of it flashed across the canvas of her face. What an artist. What a force.

    I am so proud she was a contributor featured in “Words and Violence,” the body of work dedicated to Michael Jackson and Lady Diana Spencer.

    Posted June 5, 2014 at 8:08 pm | Permalink
  3. Kim said . . .

    What a beautiful tribute to Maya Angelou! I really believe that her work was timeless and invoked so many emotions. She really was someone who was ahead of her time with her truth and wisdom. Her light will forever shine brightly and inspire many. Thank you. God Bless!

    Posted June 8, 2014 at 5:48 am | Permalink

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