Thurman's Higher Ground

HEARTFELT THANKS for the wonderful articles on Howard Thurman (December 1993). When I was doing graduate work at Boston University School of Theology, I had the privilege of taking Thurman's course "Spiritual Disciplines" and of worshiping in the B.U. chapel where he was dean and weekly preacher. These experiences, along with his writings, have made a lasting impact on my spiritual journey.

One day in chapel he told of a shattering boyhood experience when his father died. Because he was black, the funeral home wouldn't bury him. Because he drank heavily, his church wouldn't bury him. Finally a traveling evangelist agreed to do the funeral and then used the occasion to preach a wrathful sermon against those who used alcohol. On the way home from the cemetery, young Howard looked at his mother and said, "Mama, I'm never going to go to church again!" Thurman then paused, smiled, and looked down from the pulpit and said, "And here I am."

It was characteristic of Thurman's greatness of soul that he took all of his life's experiences, learned from them, and moved on to higher ground.

Richard Deats

Fellowship of Reconciliation

Nyack, New York

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Sojourners Magazine February-March 1994
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