Amazing Peace by Maya Angelou
Thunder rumbles in the mountain passes
And lightning rattles the eaves of our houses.
Flood waters await us in our avenues.
Snow falls upon snow, falls upon snow to avalanche
Over unprotected villages.
The sky slips low and grey and threatening.
We question ourselves.
What have we done to so affront nature?
We worry God.
Are you there? Are you there really?
Does the covenant you made with us still hold?
Into this climate of fear and apprehension, Christmas enters,
Streaming lights of joy, ringing bells of hope
And singing carols of forgiveness high up in the bright air.
The world is encouraged to come away from rancor,
Come the way of friendship.
It is the Glad Season.
Thunder ebbs to silence and lightning sleeps quietly in the corner.
Flood waters recede into memory.
Snow becomes a yielding cushion to aid us
As we make our way to higher ground.
Hope is born again in the faces of children
It rides on the shoulders of our aged as they walk into their sunsets.
Hope spreads around the earth. Brightening all things,
Even hate which crouches breeding in dark corridors.
In our joy, we think we hear a whisper.
At first it is too soft. Then only half heard.
We listen carefully as it gathers strength.
We hear a sweetness.
The word is Peace.
It is loud now. It is louder.
Louder than the explosion of bombs.
We tremble at the sound. We are thrilled by its presence.
It is what we have hungered for.
Not just the absence of war. But, true Peace.
A harmony of spirit, a comfort of courtesies.
Security for our beloveds and their beloveds.
We clap hands and welcome the Peace of Christmas.
We beckon this good season to wait a while with us.
We, Baptist and Buddhist, Methodist and Muslim, say come.
Come and fill us and our world with your majesty.
We, the Jew and the Jainist, the Catholic and the Confucian,
implore you to stay awhile with us
so we may learn by your shimmering light
how to look beyond complexion and see community.
It is Christmas time, a halting of hate time.
On this platform of peace, we can create a language
to translate ourselves to ourselves and to each other.
At this Holy Instant, we celebrate the Birth of Jesus Christ
Into the great religions of the world.
We jubilate the precious advent of trust.
We shout with glorious tongues the coming of hope.
All the earth’s tribes loosen their voices to celebrate the promise of
We, Angels and Mortals, Believers and Nonbelievers,
Look heavenward and speak the word aloud.
We look at our world and speak the word aloud.
We look at each other, then into ourselves,
And we say without shyness or apology or hesitation:
Peace, My Brother.
Peace, My Sister.
Peace, My Soul
Come the way of friendship… hope spreads around the earth… Peace… a harmony of spirit, a comfort of courtesies… look beyond complexion and see community… Peace.
Oh Maya Angelou. There are few poems that I have read that resound in my mind as greatly as this one. The bonds between one another that Maya describes, between the whole world and all religions, in the birth of a child.
Hope is born again in the faces of children… and as I quoted in my last post form Maggi Dawn: God… becomes a powerless child who would rather relinquish his power than live in splendid isolation from those whom he loves.
God who was such a powerful transcendent being, became even more; God came to be immanently dwelling in the form an innocent child, a baby born in Bethlehem for those 2,000 years ago to hold in their arms, and for those in the present to hold in their hearts, and to find in all walks of life.
As I read Amazing Peace again, I feel… inspired. This Christmas, and in all the days to come, in January, February, August, September… let us bring peace. Let us listen to countless others around us and far away, to the great voices of Maggi Dawn and Maya Angelou, to one another, to that voice inside ourselves afraid to be a little different… and of course, let us hear God. Let us hear God in all those people I just listed, and in our environment: in the birds singing, in the soft breeze, in the silence. Let us open our minds, open our hearts to God’s Peace and to God’s Love, sharing it and living in it. Let’s have a Peaceful Christmas, and bring light into life.
I read this poem often, and ask God as Maya Angelou so angelically puts it:
God, be with us so that we may learn by your shimmering light how to look beyond complexion and see community.