There are certain people who, for whatever reason, I think will be with us forever. Maya Angelou was one of those. I’m not sure if it’s because it seemed like she’d been with us forever already, or if it’s because her poetry and quotes are so entwined in the fabric of our lives. But hearing about her death this morning came as a sad surprise.
Before I’d heard the news this morning, I shared a quote I found on Twitter:
I was attracted to this quote because of an Oprah program I’d seen a few years ago. Her guest had been Dr. Maya Angelou. On this program, Oprah said:
“Ironically one of my most desolate moments, barely being able to speak in between sobs of despair, I called Maya looking for comfort and sympathy,” writes Oprah. “Instead she sternly chided me, ‘STOP IT’ she said. ‘Stop your crying right now and say THANK YOU!'”
“‘Why would I say thank you for this?’ I said. ‘Say thank you because you know God, and you know He put a rainbow in every cloud. The rainbow is coming. Say thank you even though you can’t see it. It’s already there.'”
Dr. Angelou further discussed her philosophy, saying we should thank God for the opportunity to learn something from our challenges.
I don’t think I’d ever consciously looked at a challenge as something to be grateful for–as an opportunity to learn something, though when I think about it, almost every challenge in my life has been a learning experience, if I opened my eyes to it.
Whenever anyone asks me what the one piece of advice I’d give them would be, it’s to find the lesson in a hardship or challenge.
It’s because of the impact I felt in my life when I first watched Maya Angelou on Oprah that I shared the quote from Twitter this morning, and it’s the reason, when I heard that she had passed away, I first thought of the Oprah episode that taught me to thank God for my challenges, for the rainbow in every cloud.
Maya Angelou will be with us forever. Her spirit will live on in words and the lessons she taught so many of us.