Ring the big bells,
cook the cow,
put on your silver locket.
The landlord is knocking on the door
and I’ve got the rent in my pocket.
Douse the lights,
Hold your breath,
take my heart in your hand.
I lost my job two weeks ago
and rent day’s here again.
[Maya Angelou, Contemporary Announcement; Shaker, Why Don’t You Sing?; New York: Random House, 1983]
That wonderful feeling when there’s enough money to cover the basics: food, clothing, shelter. The dread and shame when there’s not enough money to cover the basics: food clothing, shelter. In just two paragraphs and a word short of a full deck’s count, Maya Angelou puts us in that rented apartment.
These words are being lived out by millions today, thirty plus years after Angelou published them. Will we ever learn that poverty is not a moral shortcoming or a character flaw?
Jesus, Saint Francis, and Gandhi all figured that out. I have hope the rest of us can, too.