Monday, June 7, 2010

Maya Angelou Sings


Last Wednesday, I joined two friends from my teenage years for a special occasion. First we met for salads at the delicious eatery, Pizzacato, then crossed the bridge into downtown Portland for an evening at the Schnitzer Concert Hall. There we were, along with 2500 or so others, waiting for the wise words of the "global renaissance woman," and Pulitzer prize nominee, who is

Maya Angelou.

As the Schnitzer curtains opened, an urgent hush fell over the audience. It's not every day that one can hear first-hand the words of such an experienced and accomplished woman. She stood standing as the claps creshendoed, plateaued, and then calmed.
Then,

she spoke poetry.

It's as though her words traveled down from the stage and up the balcony into my life, and it's as if I'd seen those very things she spoke of with my very own eyes,
because the poetry of
Maya Angelou
inspires such soul movement.

"This little light of mine...
I'm gunna let it shine..."

she sang unexpectedly.

Then she began to unfold stories of truth, promise and inspiration;
stories of her Uncle Willie, "black, poor, crippled," who had lived in such a way that even white men were encouraged by his words and had gone from being poor wee-ones in North Carolina, into the political world.

"How dare we not realize the power each one of us has?"

"How dare we say, I cannot be a light for you?"

"This little light of mine...
I'm gunna let it shine..."

she sang again, with the final word trailing.

Interwoven throughout her lesson on the power and the inspiration that each one of us withholds, whether we realize or not, were more gems of wisdom.

"Go to poetry,"
she said.
"It has saved my life.
We look to laptops and the Internet. What if they go down?"

She referenced Paul Laurence Dunbar's poem "Sympathy,"
and Daisy Bates as, "an American treasure."
She mentioned her Inaugural poem for President Clinton.

"Courage," she says,
"is the most important of the virtues.
Without courage you can't practice any other virtue consistently."

"This little light of mine,
I'm gunna let it shine..."

She closed with these encouraging words~
"If you are asked to do something good--always say yes.
Then pray."

"This little light of mine,
I'm gunna let it shine.
This little light of mine,
I'm gunna let it shine.
This little light of mine,
I'm gunna let it shine.
Let it shine,
let it shine,
let it shine..."

Applause and a standing ovation followed,
and then the curtain closed.


Because she's an American legend, and because
I, too, believe poetry can save lives,
by Maya Angelou.

GIVEAWAY CLOSED.

To enter this giveaway you can do any of these things (in separate comments):

1) Tell me of he or she who has been a "little light" in your life and why in a comment.
2) Share with me your mantra or a favorite quote in a comment.
3) Blog about this giveaway on your blog and comment below.
4) Become a follower if you haven't already and comment below.

Good luck! I can't wait to read your comments!
Giveaway closes Friday, June 11, at 12pm.

Winner announced shortly after.

14 comments:

Libbie June 7, 2010 at 12:51 PM  

Oh now I am jealous! How fun would that have been to see Maya!!!

I actually just finished posting about a woman in my life who is a light! So that one is easy! My big sis plays football! She is amazing!

Mindy June 7, 2010 at 8:12 PM  

I finally became a follwer!

My dad has been my little light, my confidant and my best friend.

Bonnie June 7, 2010 at 9:54 PM  

*sigh* such a beautiful post. :)

my "little light" is my grandfather. he is 97 years old and never ceases to amaze me with his wonderful stories and charming spirit. i'm always learning something new each time I visit him.

have a lovely day and thank you so much!

xoxo,
Bonnie

b davis June 8, 2010 at 5:30 AM  

Such a nice post.

Truly, not corny, it is Jared. He is such a light in my life. When I want to hide away and pull the covers over my head to stay the day. He is my light & such a source of strength & encouragement. I am a better woman because of him.

Thanks for the giveaway, seester. :)

-Brittany

a little bit biased June 8, 2010 at 6:24 AM  

Wow Cass, I wasn't expecting a giveaway. That is just awesome that you saw her in person. I'm sure it was amazing!

Thinking about the light of my life...I thought there are so many people that light up my life and inspire me, but I too, agree with Brittany. My hubby has been a light in my life. Ryan kind of saved me. He was there making me want to be a better person, and at the same time, never making me feel bad for my faults. He's a great example to me and I think the epitomy of what a real man should be. Thanks for making me think.

Ambs

Shantel S. June 8, 2010 at 7:27 AM  

I love me some Maya Angelou!

One of my favorite quotes:

"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.”

-Maya Angelou

Keri June 8, 2010 at 7:55 AM  

I have many lights in my life. It's hard to choose just one. I also have MANY favorite quotes, but here are a couple from Maya Angelou that I love. I bet she was amazing to see in person!

"Self-pity in its early stages is as snug as a feather mattress. Only when it hardens does it become uncomfortable."

"I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life's a bitch. You've got to go out and kick ass."

Connie June 8, 2010 at 10:17 AM  

Wow, Cass, what a gift for you to be able to listen to her in person. One of my lights is my dad; he can do no wrong, as far as I'm concerned. A few very special friends have also provided some much needed light for me.

Cassie June 9, 2010 at 2:47 PM  

Thank you for sharing. It is always so inspiring to hear about those who have strengthened and had a lasting impact on others. I am loving the quotes, too!!

Loredana June 10, 2010 at 9:46 AM  

VERY interesting giveaway. Get's the mind going...

My "little light" is my husband. He's a true inspiration to me and has been since I met him about 10 years ago. He NEVER fails to keep trying and always believes he's going to succeed at whatever he does. He puts his family first, always, and never complains about it. He just keeps going and it makes me realize how boring life would be without him. We've had some troubling times in our lives him and I and through lots of love and mostly laughter we've gotten through them.

My quote by Rainer Maria Rilke-

"I beg you, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don't search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer."

A Joyful Chaos June 11, 2010 at 6:25 AM  

There are different people who are a light in my life, but I have a friend, Dana, that has inspired me more than almost anyone else with her quiet witness and testimony of god's goodness.

ajoyfulnoise (at) live.com

Tammy June 11, 2010 at 9:45 AM  

I am happily a follower!!

Tammy June 11, 2010 at 9:55 AM  

I have a dear friend who is a bright light in my life. She has taught me to be a better friend. She has many qualities that I admire and want to incorporate better into my own life. I am happy when I am around her and love that she is my friend. Love you, Amanda!

Tammy June 11, 2010 at 10:02 AM  

I've always loved this simple and well known quote...."Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take but by the number of moments that take your breath away."

“You must write every single day of your life... You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads... may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.” ― Ray Bradbury
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