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Lions Roar : November 2013
She’s a poet, novelist, essayist, and blogger whose writing has garnered both lavish praise and stinging criticism. She’s an activist, seeker, and meditator—though for Walker meditation comes in as many varieties and uses as the kale she blends into breakfast smoothies or sautés for supper. This year, Walker celebrates the thirtieth anniversary of her Pulitzer Prize (and National Book Award) for The Color Purple and the release of Beauty in Truth, a documentary about her life that premiered in London to sold-out crowds. She has pub- lished more than thirty books, most recently poetry (The World Will Follow Joy) and journal-like essays (The Cushion in the Road: Meditation and Wandering as the Whole World Awakens to Being in Harm’s Way). Early next year, she will turn seventy. Pratibha Parmar, the director of Beauty in Truth, felt “trans- ported safely across the threshold of another world full of possibilities” the first time she read Walker. The book was In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens. And what is a garden if not a world of possibility? Walker loves to plant seeds and see what grows, just as her mother did before her. “Hers was a literal garden,” she says, “but my garden is basically everything.” Preparing the Ground Walker was born in a community named for its church: Ward’s Chapel, Georgia, just outside of Eatonton. As a child, she could often be found behind a book or rambling outdoors. Sipping tea from a plain white mug, she tells me that her family accepted her love for solitude and nature, though they experienced it at times as distancing or just plain spaciness. “When you grow up in a small house with many people in it, the interior space, if you’re fortunate, becomes very spacious. In my case, it did.” Walker’s parents, Minnie Lou and Willie Lee Walker, were sharecroppers, with numerous mouths to feed and not much money to spare. Minnie Lou would return from a long day of For Walker, joy comes from gathering pine cones and twigs to make a fire, or from the blooms on the rosebush in her garden—common, everyday miracles. COLLEEN MORTON BUSCH is the author of Fire Monks: Zen Mind Meets Wildfire. She has worked as a college instructor in New Orleans and Beijing and as a senior editor of Yoga Journal. SHAMBHALA SUN NOVEMBER 2013 30