Maya Angelou’s Epiphany
Epiphany: True Stories of Sudden Insight To Inspire, Encourage and Transform
By Elise Ballard
Maya Angelou during an interview with Elise Ballard:
The truth is everybody probably has 250 epiphanies. The way you’re changed at ten prepares you to be changed again at fifteen, but you couldn’t have been changed at fifteen had you not had that change at ten. You see what I mean? Epiphany builds upon epiphany.
When my son was born, I was seventeen. And I came home from the hospital and my mother put him in the bed with me. I was so afraid I’d roll over on this beautiful baby. But she said, “It’s all right. You’ll be all right.” I thought I might smother him or something. I was just scared.
Sometime in the middle of the night, my mother awakened me, and she said, “Don’t move. Just look.” And I had put my arm up and put my hand on the mattress, and put the blanket over my arm so that my baby was lying in a tent.
And my mom softly said to me, “See baby? When you mean right, you do right.”
A few years later, when I was maybe twenty-two or so, I was studying voice, and the voice teacher lived in my house and rented from me. He taught a number of accomplished actresses and singers, and they all studied in my house. So I knew them slightly. But they were all white, and they were accomplished, and many of them were forty years old and had been written about in the San Francisco newspaper, where I lived at the time.
Once a month, the voice teacher asked us to come together and read from a book called Lessons in Truth. We all would read a page, or a half a page, whatever he assigned. And at one point, I was reading and read the line, “God loves me.”
And he stopped me and said, “Read it again.”
So I read it again: “God loves me.”
He said, “Again.”
And suddenly I became embarrassed. I was young and black, and everybody else was white and accomplished. And I felt he was really embarrassing me. Putting me on the spot. So I read it with ferocity — forcefully: “GOD. LOVES. ME.”
And, at that moment, I knew it. I knew it!
I thought, “God? That which made bees and mountains and water? That? Loves me? Maya Angelou? Well then, there’s nothing I can’t do. I can do anything good.”
Even now, telling you this some fifty years later, it still brings goose bumps to me. I could weep with joy at the knowledge that I am loved by Love itself.
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