Momma, caged birds, and the power of words

Thinking of Dr. Maya Angelou and how she voluntarily stopped speaking for almost 6 years when she was a child, because she believed her voice had caused the murder of the man who had raped her. *¹

And I am thinking of her grandmother, whom she called Momma’s, words to her, “Sister, Mama don’t care about what these people say about you must be a moron, or you must be an idiot ‘cause you can’t talk. Sister, Mama don’t care. Mama know when you and the Good Lord get ready, you are going to be a teacher.”² Thinking of how her grandmother’s words proved prophetic for when Dr. Maya began to use her voice again, her words would eventually touch lives around the globe, teaching life lessons to generations.

Thinking also of the fact that her spoken voice has now fallen silent and how hard it is to imagine that her spoken voice will be heard again only in recordings and how thankful I am that, through her writings and speeches, her voice will continue to be heard by those yet unborn. Thinking of how her words have taken root in the hidden places of the heart, mind, … the soul of so many and continue to bear fruit.

Thinking too of the title of her first auto biography, I know why the cage bird sings, and some of the words she spoke at a fundraiser for the Human Rights Campaign more than a decade ago, “You have no idea who you will inform because all of us are caged birds, have been and will be again. Caged by somebody else’s ignorance. Caged because of someone else’s small-mindedness. Caged because of someone else’s fear, hate and sometimes, caged by our own lack of courage.”³

Thinking also of the instruction in Galatians 5:1, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.” Thinking of how Dr. Maya’s words echoed eternal truth – those who have been set free can be again be imprisoned, and be complicit in their own re-enslavement.

Yes … I am thinking of Dr. Maya Angelou and her life and her words and the example and instruction all provide.

And finally, for now, I am thinking of Proverbs 18:21, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue,  and those who love it will eat its fruit” and of the longing of my heart to only speak life to that in myself and others which will nourish, strengthen, and sustain, and not to that which impairs, wounds, discourages, imprisons. O, You Who are the Word and sustains all by Your power, let me speak life.






4 thoughts on “Momma, caged birds, and the power of words

  1. I was, for a long time, caged by my own lack of courage. I found, find, great solace in her words. Her beautiful, flowing, oh-so-wise words.

    1. “Promise me you’ll always remember: You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”
      ― A.A. Milne

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