“I am a big bird winging over high mountains into serene valleys. I am ripples of
waves on silver seas. I’m a spring leaf trembling in anticipation.”
When Maya was a little girl, she lived with her grandmother. It was during the depression, and times were not easy for a black woman down South who was taking care of a crippled son and raising two grandchildren as well.
In her lovely book, Wouldn’t Take Nothing For My Journey Now, Maya tells this heart-warming story: Whenever her grandmother felt challenged by circumstances, she would look up to the heavens and tell anyone who happened to be nearby, “I will step out on the word of God.”
As a little girl, these words inspired in Maya a glorious and powerful image: She would catch a glimpse of “a tall cinnamon-colored woman with a deep, soft voice, standing thousands of feet up in the air on nothing visible….I could see her flung into space, moons at her feet and stars at her head, comets swirling around her.”
I love the idea of an imaginative little girl’s mind fashioning this beautiful image of her grandmother out of words and then sharing this lovely vision with us as readers. Through this act of creation, we too, can see Maya’s grandmother as she saw her as a little girl: tall, strong, standing on clouds, moons at her feet.
“I will step out on the word of God.”
What bold words — and what a vivid image they called forth! Through seeing Maya’s memory of the grandmother who cared for her and the faith that sustained her, we can see the arc of her own writer’s life rising up to fling words out into the world like stars and clouds, moons and comets.
To see with the eyes of a child: fresh and unafraid — and to share what we see with the dew of nowness upon our words. What can be more daring, more dangerous, than this? Let’s step out — and write on!