My days now include a lot of drive time (this is temporary, while we live out of the kids’ school district until our new home is built), it is common to have an hour or two of windshield time daily. I have found unexpected joy in listening to audio books, allowing the drives to become sacred moments. I’ve always been an avid reader, but the constraints of a full time job and lots of driving have decreased my ability to read as I would like. Audio books (I’m particularly fond of those read by the author) help to fill the void I’ve been missing with books.
Currently, I am listening to Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. I’ve long admired Dr. Angelou – she has guided and inspired me for over twenty years. I love her deep, rich voice describing her Grandmother’s musty general store in rural Stamps, Arkansas. She weaves her words together so effortlessly and poetically, that it captures my imagination – I hang on every word. I enjoy the “visits” with her each morning and afternoon, as I drive through the Iowa countryside. It is as if a beloved aunt has joined me on these car rides.
It has also brought to my memory a dear friend, sadly no longer with us, who first introduced me to Maya. It was Trish who gave me my first Maya Angelou book – a rather tattered, heavily used school edition of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Trish was a teacher by profession, but I was blessed to be her friend. I can’t say why she took an interest in me, but it was one of the greatest gifts a teenager can receive – an adult (other than my parents, who are wonderful, but are needed in the role of a parent, not a friend) to listen to my hopes and dreams, fears and uncertainties. She was a member of my church, the mother of my classmates and she and her husband great friends of my parents and somehow, God blessed me with her. She poured into me; love, wisdom, faith.
She was full of life and never did anything half-way – she had a big, strong personality and I enjoyed our time together. We would laugh and talk, it’s funny, I don’t even remember what we discussed – but that wasn’t the point. It was her giving spirit, her confidence in me, the value she made me feel in myself – incredibly important to a young woman figuring out who she was becoming. She prayed for me, she guided me spiritually, she loved me without judgement, she impacted my life in so many ways.
I don’t think I ever told Trish how much she meant to me. She passed away unexpectedly a few years ago; oh, how I wish I would’ve said thank you.
These sacred moments – listening to the words of Maya Angelou and thinking fondly of Trish – they fill me up. I am grateful for these two women and the important roles they have played in my life. May we all remember those who have helped us along in our journey – and say thank you, even if in a prayer up to the angels.