The story Epperly tells from Howard Thurman’s childhood is a great illustration of a very basic principle. When we get in unfamiliar situations or territory, so often the “reptile” or lower instinct level of our brain takes over – the fight or flight mode – and we end up anxious and behaving in ways that do not actually help the situation, and often make it worse.
Thurman’s grandmother was a wise woman. It is advise that would serve all of us well. “If you don’t know what to do, just stop a while and look around.” Last summer David Digby and I did a summer of sermons on Survival (body, mind and spirit). That was one of the survival tactics. So often when we are afraid, or when darkness sets in we, like Thurman, want to run. But that can “get you dead.” That can make a situation that “seems” bad really turn bad. Instead, what if we just stopped and looked around? Maybe we’d be able to see our way home through the small flashes of light we see when we are calm and still.
How might this wisdom help you on your Holy Adventure?
Howard Thurman (1899 – April 10, 1981) was an influential American author, philosopher, theologian, educator and civil rights leader. He was Dean of Theology and the chapels at Howard University and Boston University for more than two decades, wrote 20 books, and in 1944 helped found a multicultural church. Thurman was born in 1899 in Daytona Beach, Florida and grew up in the segregated South. In 1923, Howard Thurman graduated from Morehouse College as valedictorian . He was ordained a Baptist minister in 1925, after completing his study at the Colgate Rochester Theological Seminary now Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School. He then pursued further study as a special student of philosophy at Haverford College with Rufus Jones, a noted Quaker philosopher and mystic. Thurman earned his doctorate at Haverford.