– Maya Angelou
My introduction to Maya Angelou, an incredible woman and a provocative writer, was when she read a poem at Bill Clinton’s 1993 inauguration. I was doubly excited because she was an African American poet. I took it as a sign that our nation had come a long way since the Jim Crow era. She was also the first poet invited to read at a presidential inauguration since Robert Frost at JFK’s in 1961. I felt hopeful.
Now Maya Angelou is gone, and I am finding it difficult to feel hopeful about our country. I also realize that we haven’t journeyed as I’d thought far from the injustices and degradation of our racist, bigoted past. Inspired then by the late Maya Angelou, I’d like to offer my own poem to the “Peace of Christmas.”
The once fruited plain grows cold and mean
Retreating back into complexions and tribes
Our common humanity willfully unseen.
What has become of us, what have we done?
Decades of sacrifice and struggle
But was anything won?
With this grieving soul I beg the Christmas Peace
Melt this nation of cold hearts with shimmering light
We are unable to make the hatred cease.
Can we live as sisters and brothers?
How long must we suffer through this moral night?
Only through you, O Peace, can we move beyond “us” and “other.”
Prayer: Holy One, I pray that our hearts may be inspired by the peace that is Emmanuel, God with us.