Search This Blog

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

In Life and Death...

Along with many fellow pilgrims of faith, I am sad, reflective, and surprisingly moved by the deaths of two colleagues with whom I have had sporadic contact over the past 25 years. It was 27 years ago this month upon beginning summer Greek School at Columbia Theological Seminary that I met both Kelly Allen and Ben Johnson.  Kelly was a classmate and Ben was a professor.

As I entered a new phase of my life that summer, I had no idea how transformative and often painful my journey would be.  An elderly lady in my home church at the time, told me "Don't go off to seminary and lose your religion!"  With all due respect to that lady, thank God I did! Many people played roles in coaxing, cajoling, challenging, and inspiring me toward a more open, inclusive, and mystical experience of God.  As I have often said through the years, I went into seminary with all of the answers and came out with awe inspiring and penetrating questions.  It was the beginning of a journey from certitude about God towards possibility with God that continues today. Both Kelly and Ben were instrumental in ways they never knew.

Kelly was part of a cohort of women, some freshly out of college and others, like me, embarking on what was a second or even third or more career.  Within this cohort of women Kelly emerged as a leader, even though she was among the youngest.  It was this group of women who insisted upon something strange to me at the time called "inclusive language."  They led the way in modeling the Presence of God and God's call in their lives by challenging and inspiring the entire seminary community, especially men like me with narrow, white, male dominate world views.

Ben, by sharing his story of evolution and transformation from southern fundamentalism to mysticism showed me that old dogs can learn new tricks.  His teaching, writing, and mentorship truly modeled for me an openness to the movement of the Spirit in our lives.  He always seemed to be content where he was in his own Spiritual journey, while at the same time exploring new perspectives and new ways, which he often found in ancient and forgotten traditions and practices.  His "mile posts of life" analogies helped me begin to see the Spirit working in my life long before I ever knew it, in the present, and into the future.

There are and will be many words written and said about both Kelly and Ben, and I simply want to add mine - Thank you, my friends!  Your lives meant more than you ever knew and your deaths have touched me and many others profoundly.  You are and will be missed, but not forgotten.    

No comments:

Post a Comment