Saturday, November 22, 2014

Howard Thurman (1899-1981): With Head and Heart ~ Take II

Yeah! I finished a first read-through of With Head and Heart: The Autobiography of Howard Thurman (originally published in 1981). There's so much in this book that another round of reading it will be necessary.

One interesting facet: how Howard Thurman traveled around, extensively, despite the obstacles of segregation in the USA, and cultural-political barriers globally. It hearkens to the adage: If there's a will, there's a way; if there's no will, there's no way - a truth that applies to so much in the way of human activity.

Thurman traveled by foot, by rail, by ship, by plane and by automobile. Incidental details of these modes of travel are woven throughout With Head and Heart. And then there's always the matter of where to stay, and how to stay alive and thrive during each journey.
Howard Thurman (Boston University
While reading With Head and Heart, it came upon me that I have become significantly more attuned to things over the years (or possibly I've become more self-aware of this attunement). In Texas, for example, I've become more immediately attuned to shifts in air quality  -- not only from day to day but also from space to space. Likewise, I've become more attuned to what other people are attuned to, interested in, driven by, fascinated with. 

Besides travel, I'm attuned to Howard Thurman's interweaving of fiscal matters, funding, the costs of moving around, taking up new responsibilities while holding personal space as sacred. Thurman was always attuned to how one must pay for things along the way -- and he took none of it for granted. In fact, he was very imaginative and resourceful.

And a third facet in With Head and Heart that I'm attuned to is Thurman's awareness of both differences and unities. From an early age, he witnessed doctrinal differences between Baptists and Methodists in his home town in Florida (Daytona Beach and thereabouts) -- silly distinctions that often came down to such matters as sprinkle baptism or full immersion baptism. And worse, Howard had to contend with the social damnation by narrow-minded Christians of people like his father, who chose not to participate in Christian rites. Thurman came to think of these differences and prejudices as absurd, and really he developed a spirit similar to that of today's Pope Francis and Tenzin Gyatso, the Dalai Lama.

And so, a real mentor for us now, Thurman was able to come to a meeting of the minds and spirits among a diverse group of people, whether Cree and Chippewa in Canada, or Muslims in Nigeria, or Jews and Buddhists in California, or Hindus, Buddhists and Christians in India, or secular people, agnostics and atheists anywhere -- he could meet them all, and did. The unities of people are real: we are mortals, we think and feel, eat and sleep, have a limited time here -- and so on. Good stuff.

Today's Rune: Harvest. 


Barbara Bruederlin said...

Quite a wise person, by the sounds of it, and certainly a worthy role model.

Charles Gramlich said...

I've always admired folks who get out and actually do the hard traveling work of going around the country. Never had the guts myself, I guess.