Remembering Maya Angelou: An Exquisite Test of Faith
by Nischala Joy Devi.
May 28, 2014.
This morning I heard the news that a beautiful, dynamic light had passed on. Maya Angelou was to me, as she was to so many, a real mentor and trailblazer. Especially women, all women, can have gratitude for her strong, powerful and compassionate leadership.
She will be deeply missed, but I’m grateful that her empowering words will live with us always.
In my book The Secret Power of Yoga I used one of her stories to illustrate the perfect blending of Tapas, Swadhaya and Iswara Pranidhana:
An Exquisite Test of Faith
The brilliant poet Maya Angelou talks with passion and tenderness of one of her fiercest tests and how she ascended to a high level of understanding through sacred prayer.
An alarming phone call revealed that her precious son was hospitalized and not expected to live. “Could you come quickly?” the frightened voice asked. She could hardly have arrived more quickly if she had the power to materialize at will.
The doctors were confident that her son would only live a short time longer. Hearing that proclamation, she enjoined everyone concerned to convey only positive thoughts when entering her son’s hospital room. Summoning all her faith and strength, she began a prayer vigil that, she vowed, would continue until her son had made a total recovery. She would consider no other outcome. Her heart and soul entwined in chorus, “God, I am thanking you in advance for the full recovery of my son.” Her prayer was clear and simple, leaving not even a hair’s breadth for doubt or confusion.
Moving from the seed in her heart, the prayer flooded her mind, giving it voice. “God, I am thanking you in advance for the full recovery of my son.” Over and over she prayed, in a heart-wrenching refrain that summoned compassion from all the angels. “God, I am thanking you in advance for the full recovery of my son.” All through the night, aware of nothing else, her powerful voice echoed through the room and up to the heavens. Drawn by her sincerity and passion, many joined her in chorus: “God, I am thanking you in advance for the full recovery of my son.” As others tired and left, she continued until she knew that the prayers were being heard. “God, I am thanking you in advance for the full recovery of my son.” At times her voice started to waver, but never her heart.
Not until her son returned from the coma to a semi-waking state did she even begin to slow down her vigil. After the full recovery of her son, she was asked if she ever doubted that her prayers would be answered. “If doubt even started to peek its head up, I’d bellow even louder. The Good Lord might have been bus,y and I wanted to make sure he could hear me. And I kept the prayer going for weeks after. I was not satisfied until my son fully recovered.”
Thank you, dear Maya Angelou, for all the gifts you gave us. We continue to benefit from them. Namaste. ♥
♥ Partially excerpted from The Secret Power of Yoga: A Woman’s Guide to the Heart and Spirit of the Yoga Sutras by Nischala Joy Devi