Quote of the Day: I feel now that the time has come when even a woman or a child who can speak a word for freedom and humanity is bound to speak…and I hope every woman who can write will not be silent… Harriet Beecher Stowe, quote from Harriet Beecher Stowe – A Spiritual Life by Nancy Koester
As I was considering what to write for this month’s installment of the Insecure Writers Support Group, hosted by successful blogger and author Alex J. Cavanaugh, I heard the voices of women who have gone before me. Like many people who have been inspired by the life, writings, and work of Maya Angelou, on the morning of her passing, I wept. I read blog posts and watched video clips of her and felt again her energy rising and inspiring me. I am currently reading the above mentioned book on the spiritual life of Harriet Beecher Stowe, the woman who gave a voice to the slaves in early America, and did much to change attitudes and inspire action. Both Angelou and Stowe felt silenced by the society they lived in and from the circumstances of their lives. And, still, they rose to their calling. Once they found their voices, they used them for good.
Harriet Beecher Stowe said she “saw a vision” and that came to her “by the rushing of a mighty wind.” She could no more push away the thoughts, ideas, and story than if they were her own children clamoring for attention. Despite the demands of motherhood (she had seven children) and living in a society that barely offered a living to a woman as a writer, or anything for that matter, and certainly didn’t think she had any place taking a political stance, she knew she had to write this story.
Maya Angelou writers in her book, Singin’ and Swingin’ and Gettin’ Merry Like Christmas that there was a time when she just wanted to lie down and give up. She is the survivor of childhood rape and incest. She grew up in poverty, felt the sting of abandonment, and the horrible glares of prejudice. She worked as a stripper, raised her son on her own, and persevered. God placed in her a seed of strength and she rose to greatness. Some of my favorite quotes from her:
Hold those things that tell your history and protect them. During slavery, who was able to read or write or keep anything? The ability to have somebody to tell your story to is so important. It says: ‘I was here. I may be sold tomorrow. But you know I was here.’
Find a beautiful piece of art. If you fall in love with Van Gogh or Matisse or John Oliver Killens, or if you fall love with the music of Coltrane, the music of Aretha Franklin, or the music of Chopin – find some beautiful art and admire it, and realize that that was created by human beings just like you, no more human, no less.
Our stories come from our lives and from the playwright’s pen, the mind of the actor, the roles we create, the artistry of life itself and the quest for peace.
And, one more that I’m paraphrasing here, I realized at one point that I am not a writer who teaches, rather I’m a teacher who writes. That’s also how I think of myself.
Dear Maya Angelou, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and all the courageous women who have gone on before us, Thank you.
You, whether you’re a member of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group or not, have a seed of strength in you, too. Answer your call and see where you will rise.
Go. Create. Inspire!
Journaling Prompt: Who do you look to for inspiration? Who has lead the way for you?