Mavis Staples, a force of love

By Lynda Shadbolt

I am dedicating 2022 to love.To paying attention to how my life plays out when I live in a state of being a loving presence. Of noticing what happens when I let love guide my days and my decisions. Feeling what it is like to tune in to the love that is around me and in me. And at the same time, I also pay attention to how my life evolves when I block love, resist love and come from a place of fear, doubt, anger, envy or hatred. It is a daily, often minute by minute observation, readjustment practice.

Some days this awareness is very challenging and frustrating. Other days effortless. I do know life is easier when I am open to give and receive love. Life is easier when I believe that life loves me. I really pay attention when I am in the presence of love and I just soak it in. It could be a sunset, dinner with friends, working in the garden, meditating or any manner of activities. I never take the presence of love for granted. I was in the presence of love when I watched Mavis Staples perform on the main stage on Saturday, July 9 at the Mariposa Folk Festival in Orillia. She turned 83 on July 10. She is a force of love and joy. Mariposa was sold out with 30,000 people in attendance. Mavis is an American rhythm and blues and gospel singer, actress, and civil rights activist. She rose to fame as a member of her family’s band, The Staple Singers – she was the last surviving member of that band. She, and her band, came out on to the stage and thousands of people stood to dance and sing with her. The joy in the air was contagious. One of the songs she sang I’m just another solider of the army of love is from an album called Faith and Grace.

One of the things I love about Mariposa is there are babies, toddlers, teenagers, young adults, adults, seniors and people of all abilities and backgrounds. Everyone is welcome and I have to say everyone works together to make the event fun and easy. Mavis came on the stage and we all stood together joined by our love of music. For me it was especially heartwarming to see all these young people up at the front of the stage cheering and fully engaged and showing their appreciation for Mavis and the messages she was sending out. She sang her own music and she covered other songs from other artists. As I write this article on a Sunday morning I am listening to her music and just came across this song … check it out if you are looking for something beautiful. It is from the 2021 Boston Pops show. It’s on YouTube also and is “Mavis Staples sings You are Not Alone.” Mavis is a force of love, of hope, of faith. Of joy. Just being in the audience as she performed I could feel my heart growing! Love was in the air. Most of the performers at Mariposa sang about how the world needs more love. When I am in the presence of love, I feel open, expansive and grateful. Choose love. Everyday.