Tonight I started to finally pack. I’ve been packing since about 5:30 pm and I have one and half boxes packed. The challenge is that I started packing my bookshelves. And as a book lover every shelf holds a treasure that I need to flip through or at least re-read the first page.
Like my torn and worn copy of A Prayer for Owen Meany. I read my first of John Irving’s novels the summer before my junior year of high school. It has, since the moment that I finished it been my favorite book. I still re-read every year around my birthday. The copy I have lacks a back cover and is taped together. The pages have notes and highlights written in my high school hand. It is like an old friend. It seems wrong to pack it away in a box that will sit in storage for the next few months. Like it deserves better than that. So I sat an re-read the first chapter again. And I quickly remembered why I loved it so much. Its one of the very best first lines of a book ever.
“I am doomed to remember a boy with a wrecked voice – not because of his voice, or because he was the smallest person I ever knew, or even because he was the instrument of my mother’s death, but because he is the reason I believe in God; I am a Christian because of Owen Meany.”
How great would it be to have someone remember you that way? Not really for anything about you except that you brought them faith. That you believe in God because of another person. It seems such an amazing thing to give to someone.
And then I found a book of poetry by Maya Angelou. And I had truly forgotten how much I love her work. How is resonates with every part of my being. I was never a poetry reader or writer. But tonight when I read her words again… they sounded different to me. More powerful. More meaningful. So tonight I share two poems with you that I just couldn’t stop reading. I read them over and over and over again and I somehow believe that I’ll go get in bed and read them again.
Maybe just maybe tomorrow I will work on memorizing them. So that I can be one of those people that can rattle of poetry in an instance and everyone around me will think that I am brilliant.
Sense of Insecurity
I couldn’t tell fact from fiction
Or if my dream was true,
The only sure prediction
In this whole world was you.
I’d touched your features inchly
Heard love and dared the cost.
The scented spiel reeled me unreal
And found my senses lost.
And Still I Rise
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod 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 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 cute me with your eyes
You may kill me with your hatefulness
But still, like air, I 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 wondrously clear
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors game
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
And I’ll be totally honest I don’t really identify with being a black ocean or being the dream and the hope of the slave. But I know the feeling of wanting to hold your head up high and say “I Rise”