Oprah: The Sit-Down Interview
On Oprah Winfrey’s Emmy award-winning Super Soul Sunday show, she invites guests to her Montecito, California home–spiritual teachers, celebrities, ordinary people who have achieved the extraordinary–to sit in the shade of massive oak trees and share what they have learned on their faith journeys.
On an October Sunday morning, she flips the script, allowing 8 journalists to interview her at her home about her new book, The Wisdom of Sundays, a collection of life-changing insights she’s gained from conversations on the show. (Read more about her home and her star-studded book launch gospel brunch here.)
The book features her most profound Aha! Moments and wisdom from 80 spiritual teachers, writers, activists and creatives—from Pastor John Gray and President Jimmy Carter to Diana Nyad and Sue Monk Kidd—the pages are organized in a way that tracks her own faith journey over the years. Bound in Chinese linen and decorated with soothing photography (including some from her property) the aesthetic of the book as well as the text invite the reader into a spiritual experience.
“Everything I’ve ever done is about my learning and the teaching of other people,” she tells us of her intentions behind this latest book. “I know that it’s a part of why I came to the planet, to deliver this message: number one that you are enough and that as you delve deeper into the you that is enough, you will have and lead the richest, most open, fulfilled life for yourself.”
She locks eyes with each one of us around the table in the affirming manner of a teacher eager for us to learn the truths that will take us to the next level in our spiritual journey. The investment in relative strangers has been the hallmark of her career. At heart, she says she is still the young girl from rural Mississippi who would save her Baby Ruth bars until her cousins could come over and split them with her.
“I, first of all, know that I didn’t get here by myself,” she says in response to a question of how she has managed to maintain her groundedness, despite living an elevated life. “I paid a lot of money for this property, but every single day I can tell you, I look at it as a gift….There’s not a day that I wake up here that I don’t have a sense of appreciation and gratitude and for it.”
She conveys that sense of appreciation as she talks with the journalists. If she’s reached a state of gratitude and appreciation, what could possibly be next on her spiritual journey? I ask her. She answers,
“More of it. More of it. Because there’s always something on the outside coming to rattle you. Because anybody can be peaceful when you’re just walking around here smelling the eucalyptus. Anybody can be peaceful then, when everything is going right. The challenge is to step back and observe the stuff that’s happening as stuff that’s happening, and not you. And not get pulled into it.”
It’s a fitting message for tumultuous times.
“You cannot meet the rage, the violence. You cannot meet the disrespect and the disregard for other people’s humanity and being on the same level,” she says. “When you try to meet it, when you are on the same vibration as it, you just end up in total conflict.”
Instead, she encourages us with a phrase from a movie she’s starring in early next year, A Wrinkle in Time.
“If you’re choosing to be a ‘warrior for the light,’ a warrior for the good side, you can’t let yourself be drawn into the hysteria of the darkness. I believe, yes, you must resist, but you must resist higher. It’s like when Michelle Obama said, ‘When they go low, we go high’; the reason you have to go high is because when you meet them in the low you become them.”
That higher frequency is what she’s hoping to help people tap into, through the Oprah Winfrey Network, her production company, O Magazine, and now The Wisdom of Sundays. Through these mediums, her intention is the same as it was in when she overhauled The Oprah Winfrey Show to focus on self-improvement and spiritual growth: “to get people to see a way into the best of themselves” through story-telling and teaching.
But once we have a spiritual awakening, she says, the point is not to keep it to yourself. Getting woke and staying woke are supposed to empower you towards your God-given purpose. “So if you see injustice, that means you’re supposed to stand up against it,” she says.
“This is the moment you’ve been called to rise to the best of yourself, to respond in ways that really align with your integrity and your heart and your purpose in life,” because the world is counting on it.
“It’s a big moment and I do believe it can go either way,” she says with cautious optimism.
But, “it’s not my journey, it’s yours,” she says of her intentions behind publishing The Wisdom of Sundays. “That’s my goal, to get people to see that for themselves,” she says, not to profit from the book sales. She’ll take no earnings from the book, but instead will dedicate it all to her school for girls and other organizations around the world that help girls get a good education.
She has learned from her early years on The Oprah Winfrey Show and from trying to launch OWN with 24/7 Super Soul Sunday-like shows that people have to come into their own faith walk in their own way and their own time.
“I used to always want to be right,” she says of the biggest change she’s made in her life on her spiritual journey. “I was always waiting on a moment where I could say, ‘Told ya so.'”
“Now I ask the question, ‘Do I want to be right, do I want to prove I’m right, or do I want peace? [Now] I can settle for the peace.”