Reflections on The Tragedy in Isla Vista and the Life of Dr. Maya Angelou

“A pattern for survival is fiercely slated.” – Joy Harjo

by Sarah Wurst

May 28, 2014

In the aftermath of tragedy so close to home and community, where brokenness is highlighted by blatantly spoken hatred and violence, I have been holding all the nuances of responding to something like the Isla Vista shooting.

As a person who works for building a healthy food system and in restorative justice for youth, I am well-aware of the shadowy underside of our systemic structures in the United States.  So, while we work with gentleness within the ways that the cracks of our society played out in this last week, I recommend that we turn our attention to the deeply rooted problems that grow outbreaks such as these.

Even as we face all of this, I believe, and share my belief, that light will not be overcome by violence and destruction.  I have seen that it is in working in these murky-watered margins, or cultivating strength, peace and balance in our painful growing edges, that seeds of Life are sown.

In the days and weeks after such a shocking, nauseating tragedy, I hope we can hear from a multitude of voices.  Essential voices like these feminist responses to the Isla Vista shooting.  I hope we can lift up these responses more so than we spread the contagious words of poison and violence.

I also hope that we remember that within each of us there is a noble spirit of rising, despite it all.  This is not to negate the horrors, but to say that there is a special need for us to look them right in the face with a unified spirit of saying enough is enough, and creative and restorative imagining of how life could happen differently.

I take courage in the life and words and art of Maya Angelou.  And, on this, the day her spirit left her body, I think it is an especially poignant and auspicious time to learn from and take on the of resilience, perseverance and justice that she lived with her life.  She is our saint for this time, and I hope that we can all reach out to her spirit that was released today into the world, and be enlivened by it.  Spend some time in quiet gratitude and solidarity with the video below.  Take her words into your own body.  Maybe even say them with her.  Maya Angelou, pray for us.  Rise.  Rise.  Rise.

We are humans after all, priests and prophets, made of earth and stars,  noble and humble co-creators with the Universe, and all of what is holy and good lives within us.  Even in the face of the most broadly seeping and worst violence, distress, and tragedy, we are able to lift, liberate and love.

“Just like life, I rise.”

Read the full post here.

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