Memories

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On the first day of the first class I took in seminary, Maria Harris, the professor walked into the room. She opened her briefcase and carefully took out a little golden orb and placed it on the front of the podium, one of those small, table top models so often used in classrooms and meeting rooms. She said to us,

"I was taught never to teach with my back to the world."

The orb was a small globe. At the start of every class that she taught, the same ritual would be performed. The orb would be carefully placed on the front of whatever podium she stood behind. Maria was without doubt one of the best teachers I ever had.

Anyone who has clicked through on other pages of this site has seen this already on the page titled "About." I come back to it today for several reasons. I am working on a sermon for a "job" interview next weekend. It will be preached in a pulpit other than the one I am interested in occupying. I am thinking a lot about how we pray and how prayer comes in many forms. The form that speaks loudest to me is "praying with my feet" in essence, doing justice work is my prayer, my purpose for being.

It was Maria Harris who first introduced me to the the idea that prayer could mean such a thing and take such a form. I've been reading through her books again and see the twinkle in her eye and remember her voice in the classroom. It was a magic time.

I learned several years ago that she was suffering from a dementia related to Parkinson's Disease. Yesterday I googled her name and discovered that she had died two years ago. I read the tributes to her and dug out my files from the classes I took with her. I found the notes she wrote on my papers cheering me on. She will never know how many lives she touched and changed for the better.

I also learned this week of two former parishioners who are near death from breast cancer. They are two women whom I loved, who showed strength and courage and joy to all they knew and knew them. They too will be a loss for those who love them. They too have touched innumerable lives through their living and ultimately their dying.

Life is too short for any of us to waste it. There is so much to do. As I put the globe that I own on the front of the pulpits from which I preach, I will take the strength, the love, the encouragement and the nourishment that Maria and the others have taught me through the intersection of our lives and continue to preach with my face to the world.

Thank you Maria, Joy, and Jean. May love be with you wherever you are taken on your journeys.
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