The Sound of the Genuine

ThurmanThe 40th anniversary of Howard Thurman’s Spelman College commencement speech.

There is something in every one of you that waits, listens for the sound of the genuine in yourself and if you cannot hear it, you will never find whatever it is for which you are searching and if you hear it and then do not follow it, it was better that you had never been born…

You are the only you that has ever lived; your idiom is the only idiom of its kind in all of existence and if you cannot hear the sound of the genuine in you, you will all of your life spend your days on the ends of strings that somebody else pulls… Continue reading “The Sound of the Genuine”

For a Time of Sorrow

Howard ThurmanBy Howard Thurman

I share with you the agony of your grief,
The anguish of your heart finds echo in my own.
I know I cannot enter all you feel
Nor bear with you the burden of your pain;
I can but offer what my love does give:
The strength of caring,
The warmth of one who seeks to understand
The silent storm-swept barrenness of so great a loss.
This I do in quiet ways,
That on your lonely path
You may not walk alone.

A Litany of Thanksgiving

Howard ThurmanBy Howard Thurman, forwarded by Marian Wright Edelman via Ched Myers (that’s how the radical network flows)

Today, I make my Sacrament of Thanksgiving.

I begin with the simple things of my days:

Fresh air to breathe,
Cool water to drink,
The taste of food,
The protection of houses and clothes,
The comforts of home.

For all these I make an act of Thanksgiving this day! Continue reading “A Litany of Thanksgiving”

Lent with Howard Thurman

thurman.jpgBy Will O’Brien, Alternative Seminary, Philadelphia, PA

This Lent, I have using as a meditation guide Howard Thurman’s classic Jesus and the Disinherited. This book and other writings of Thurman, an African American scholar, theologian, and activist whom Vincent Harding called our “Black prophet-mystic,” were a spiritual taproot of the civil rights movement and continue to animate many people of faith who hunger and thirst for justice. Just in the first pages, his writing has revealed itself to be an unsettlingly relevant text for this season of repentance and metanoia.

Early in the book, Thurman recounts a visit to India in 1935 – a delegation of American students on a “pilgrimage of friendship.” One day, the principle of a Law College in Ceylon personally asked Thurman to have coffee. He posed a pointed question, addressing Thurman as an African American Christian: “What are you doing here?” Continue reading “Lent with Howard Thurman”

Acting Against the Spirit of Our Time

From Howard Thurman in Footprints of a Dream : The Story of the Church for the Fellowship of All Peoples (1959):

The movement of the Spirit of God in the hearts of men and women often calls them to act against the spirit of their times or causes them to anticipate a spirit which is yet in the making. In a moment of dedication they are given wisdom and courage to dare a deed that challenges and to kindle a hope that inspires.