Maya Angelou Taught Me Too

[Word count: 429. Approximate read time: 2 minutes]


“I bring everyone who has ever been kind to me with me. Black, White, Asian, Spanish-speaking, Native American, gay, straight, everybody. I say, ‘Come with me. I’m going on the stage. Come with me. I need you now.’ Long dead, you see? So, I don’t ever feel I have no help.

I’ve had rainbows in my clouds. And the thing to do, it seems to me, is to prepare yourself so that you can be a rainbow in somebody else’s cloud. Somebody who may not look like you, may not call God the same name you call God, if they call God at all!  You see? And may not eat the same dishes prepared the way you do. May not dance your dances. Or speak your language. But be a blessing… to somebody. That’s what I think.”

—Dr. Maya Angelou
(April 4, 1928 – May 28, 2014)

I was in my bedroom idly assembling furniture when I first heard this. As I knelt over small-printed instructions, Maya’s words kind of laid across my back and caressed it. Down my spine with a playful tickle. Circled around my torso to give a loving little squeeze. And then they all filed inside me to a place in my heart where they stayed.

I was already inching toward leaving my church. I felt that the experience of God I wanted couldn’t happen within its confines. So when she said somebody “may not call God the same name you call God,” a truth crystallized for me. That was the God I wanted to know. A singular one… accessible to everyone.

I believe there is only one God. One savior. One Holy Spirit. One creator of us all. The way I grew up, I know him as Jesus. But if someone from another country, speaking another language, eating their different dishes, and dancing their not-my-dances encountered my God… how would they know what to call Him?

Maybe AllahYHWHElohimAll-Glorious… or even Howard. But I don’t think the architect of everyone shares co-creator credit with anyone else. This has saved me a lot of arguing. It freed me from the divisiveness of religion. It gave me a vantage point from which to love everyone God created the way He loves them. It unified, illuminated, and liberated.

Love liberates. It doesn’t just hold—that’s ego… I’d like to have your arms around me. I’d like to hear your voice in my ear. But that’s not possible now, so I love you. Go.”

We love you too. Thank you for everything. Your turn to go…


Related Junkyard Salvation posts:

  • Deuces (January 5, 2012)
    If you wondered what made me leave a church that I loved so much, read this.
  • Cast Away (January 19, 2012)
    When I finally decided to strike out without a church, here’s how it began.
  • For Believers Who Have Considered Apostasy When Faith Isn’t Enuf (March 28, 2012)
    When I thought about somebody who may not call God what I call God, it inspired this.
  • The Darkest Night (January 20, 2013)
    Another honest piece about what I don’t believe, why I don’t believe it, and what I hope changes about that.

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