Musing this week on Facebook.
My Post today is a Testimony with my commitment to share my “Howard Thurman Journal” in this Space in Honor of the ITC Class of 2023.
In 1992 when I left Bennett College, I spent a year as Associate to Central Church, Atlanta. I was appointed to the North Georgia Conference Board of Ordained Ministry and rode to The 1993 BOM Retreat with the late Cornelius Henderson, a District Superintendent at that moment in time. The subject turned to Howard Thurman and he asked me if he could borrow my Journal.
Not long after I put it in his hands, my Dean, Major Jones called and asked where it was. He told me that I should not let the sun go down on that day without retrieving it, AND, he said, “Never let it out of your hands again.”
In 2011 I received this email for what the Vanderbilt Divinity School called “The Search for Common Ground in a Post 9/11 World: Howard Thurman and Human Relatedness”. It was here that I realized that in a room full of Divinity Scholars, including several who had done and were in process of Dissertations on Howard Thurman, I was the only person in the room who knew Howard Thurman.
But afterwards as they waited their turns to flip through my Journal, I listened while some identified pieces that were autographed ORIGINALS stating that they had only seen 3rd, 4th and 5th generation copies of. It was revealed in that space that this journal that I have kept, not letting it out of my hands nor sight is now… “A Holy Grail.”
And to encourage you as this “Brand new generation of ITC Masters of Divinity”: When YOU BE in Campus Ministry, and you working REAL HARD to cause The HOLY SPIRIT to descend upon the Chapel… and then… IT COMES and fills the House!
Dr. Thurman’s one and only requirement made on the Ten of us was: “It is expected that each participant will keep a log of his/her reflections and reactions to the daily experience.” This grew into a “Journal” for me… into a ‘holy grail’.
What was for so many years the ‘First Page’ is the pictures I took on the very first time I came to know even WHO he was, September 1978 in Chapel. I began by calling it “The First Encounter (of The Third Kind)”.
What is Now ‘The First Page’ is from the Tennessee A.&I. State College Bulletin when he delivered the Commencement Address to the c/o ‘38. AND Adam Clayton Powell delivered the Baccalaureate!
I must tell you here that Dr. Pugh who was stalking me about walking out on his ‘Psychological Exams’ on entrance, walked up on me coming out of class at Graduation time c/o ‘80 when Dr. Thurman returned to deliver the Commencement Address at ITC. Had there been two doors Dr. Pugh would not have caught me, but I faced him and he asked me to walk with him. “You are not the person I thought you were,” he said first. Then, that he has spent time with Dr. Thurman the day before at Spelman’s Guest House after he delivered the Baccalaureate there. He said that Dr. Thurman sent a message for me to come find him at Spelman. When I got there he was not there.
So I devised my plan to arrive at Commencement very early and get a corner front row seat at the Morehouse MLK Chapel. When I sat down I looked behind the far curtain and there he was… in his robe deep in meditation. I guess I was the only one bold enough to walk up on him and my spirit leaped as I stood frozen and he opened his eyes, smiled and said “give an account for yourself.” He told me that “he had a ‘Birddog’ on me and that I would never get away from him.” He said “before I slept that night I needed to write him a letter stating every little thing that I was doing, and everything I thought I was big enough to do.” He told me that “he expected to find my letter in his mailbox by the time he got back to San Francisco.”
In 2010 I was doing a research project in TSU’s Archives and came across the 1938 Bulletin, now (this ‘Birddog’ as I immediately thought upon finding it) is “First Place in My Journal”.
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