In the days after her death last year, the media ran many of their interviews with Maya Angelou. In more than one, she quoted Terence: “I am a human being, nothing human can be alien to me.” More than once, she mentioned her connection as a child of God to “the brute, the bigot and the batterer,” who she said are also children of God.
If Maya Angelou knew anything, she knew the full range of human possibility – for good and for ill. And she was willing to acknowledge that all of it lived inside of her.
I’ve been wondering how to consider this range as we talk about Beloved Community. On this site we claim that Beloved Community involves remembering our brilliance and our beauty, our wisdom and our compassion. That feels sentimental, however, without acknowledgement of our capacity for and participation in violence, greed and hate.
The wonder is not that Beloved Community is possible. The wonder is that it is possible in the midst of and in the wake of unspeakable horror; that forgiveness, compassion, understanding, connection and hope abide as choices, despite systems of terror and the rubble of wrecked relationships.
Today, I am humbled by and enormously grateful for all those – like Maya Angelou – whose choice for connection becomes a habit, a practice, a default setting.