I’m not sure when I first came across Maya Angelou or why I feel such a deep connection to her and her writing. I guess I have always been drawn to spiritual women, women who I feel share a deep connection to mother earth and all people. Sister Fabu was another such woman and in some ways paved the path for my heart connection to Dr. Maya Angelou. Sister Fabu (not a nun) oversaw the summer and after-school program I worked at way back in the 1990s. Fabu was also a poet and she embodied peace and grace. Watching her mere presence calm an overexcited child was beautiful to behold. I wanted to be like her in the absolute best sense of the notion. To be able to hold a room of children, adults, whoever, in love. To be able to share a sense of grace, forgiveness and acceptance with all you encounter. That is something I hope in my lifetime to be able to do. Even if it is a fraction of what women like Maya Angelou and Sister Fabu were able to share, I know it will change the lives of others and my own.
I have a strong affinity to Maya Angelou’s poem “Phenomenal Woman.” In our first year of drama school this was the poem I chose to work on in voice class. Perhaps at the heart of this poem is the same kernel of what draws me to these phenomenal earth mother types – there is an acceptance and celebration of self, there is an awareness of the attractiveness and power in that, and there is a visceral expression of that love in the rhythm and between the lines. And always there is the mystery, how despite all odds this human being can share so much love. So thank you, Sister Fabu and Maya Angelou, for demonstrating what womanhood can look like, what embodied grace and love feels like, and what truth and acceptance sound like. I am forever in your debt.