As I with many of you watched the home going services for the indomitable and undeniably phenomenal, phenomenal woman Dr. Maya Angelou, I am struck with the feeling of death. Not in the sense of loss but in the sense of renewal and the transition to something better.
Those who subscribe and believe in a higher power, no matter which name you chose to ascribe to it can understand the concept of moving up and moving on to something greater and better. It is something that we all here in our earthen clay forms strive for every day of our lives. We sometimes become so engrossed in our sense of loss when someone dies that we can forget this basic concept.
For me right now and perhaps because of who and what Dr. Angelou was that I am brought sharply back to the feeling that death is a release to something bigger and better than what was before.
It is that feeling of death relative to the shedding and transitioning to something better that I feel right now at this moment. The death of the woman who was filled with anger for all the times she was overlooked and ignore used and abused, manipulated and lied to. The death of the woman who was made to feel invisible when men walked by her to get to ANOTHER woman. The death of the woman who men looked at and saw only sex, not the person or the spirit within. The death of the woman who’s heart was irreparably broken at the death of her only child which by virtue of people’s inability to deal – led to isolation and more hurt and pain than words will ever be able to express. The death and transition from unimaginable hurt, pain, guilt, shame, and all those being met with their death as they should be. The transition to something and someone better being the inevitable result. The passing of Dr. Angelou her transitioning to something greater and better than our mortal minds can ever conceive of the ultimate reward.
And I mark this day – this home going of a spirit so bright that our eyes cannot truly behold it, with marking the death and transition of my own. To something brighter and better. Aspiring to do what naysayers claim cannot be done. Remembering that Dr. Angelou’s first book “I know Why the Caged Bird Sings” was published when she was in her 40’s. Recalling that her life encompassed so many different experiences; some, via the conventional and socially acceptable – some not. All combined, however, to produce a spirit that was so beautiful that the world today stops to pause and remember her beautiful spirit.
I have never been blessed with actually meeting Dr. Angelou in person, but only through her words and the words of others, have I as many, become familiar with her spirit. Her life and her accomplishments only adding to the beauty of the spirit that can be recognized inwardly, without an actual physical act taking place.
As the phoenix emerging from the burning flames that purge and purify rises….
As the spirit of one so beautiful rises on to her rightfully earned and just rewards
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.
Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.
Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.
Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.
Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.
You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.
Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?
Out of the huts of history’s shame
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
— Maya Angelou