Howard Washington Thurman (November 18, 1899 – April 10, 1981) was an African-American author, philosopher, theologian, educator, and civil rights leader. As a prominent religious figure, he played a leading role in many social justice movements and organizations of the twentieth century. Thurman's theology of radical nonviolence influenced and shaped a generation of civil rights activists, and he was a key mentor to leaders within the movement, including Martin Luther King, Jr.
During times of war, hatred becomes quite respectable even though it has to masquerade often under the guise of patriotism.
Community cannot for long feed on itself; it can only flourish with the coming of others from beyond, their unknown and undiscovered brothers.
“There are two questions that we have to ask ourselves. The 1st is " Where am I going?" and the 2nd is "Who will go with me?” If you ever get these questions in the wrong order , you are in trouble.”
“There must be always remaining in every life, some place for the singing of angels, some place for that which in itself is breathless and beautiful.”
“It cannot be denied that too often the weight of the Christian movement has been on the side of the strong and the powerful and against the weak and oppressed—this, despite the gospel.”
-Howard Thurman, Source: Jesus and the Disinherited
“Do not be silent; there is no limit to the power that may be released through you.”
-Howard Thurman, Source: Deep is the Hunger
Prayer is a form of communication between God and man and man and God... I am always impressed by the fact that it is recorded that the only thing that the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to do was to pray.
There is a quiet courage that comes from an inward spring of confidence in the meaning and significance of life. Such courage is an underground river, flowing far beneath the shifting events of one's experience, keeping alive a thousand little springs of action.
Often, to be free means the ability to deal with the realities of one's own situation so as not to be overcome by them.
"Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
"Do what is on fire inside of you. More often than anything else, the world needs persons who are on fire.”
"The hard thing when you get old is to keep your horizons open. The first part of your life everything is in front of you, all your potential and promise. But over the years, you make decisions, you carve yourself into a given shape. Then the challenge is to keep discovering the green growing edge.”
"And this is important to remember: given the fact of pain as a normal part of the experience of life, one may make the pain contribute to the soul, to the life meaning. One may be embittered, ground down by it, but one need not be. The pain of life may teach us to understand life and, in our understanding of life, to love life. To love life truly is to be whole in all one's parts; and to be whole in all one's parts is to be free and unafraid.”
"As the sea gull lays in the wind current, so I lay myself into the spirit of God.”
“Life Goes On”
During these turbulent times we must remind ourselves repeatedly that life goes on. This we are apt to forget. The wisdom of life transcends our wisdoms; the purpose of life outlasts our purposes; the process of life cushions our processes. The mass attack of disillusion and despair, distilled out of the collapse of hope, has so invaded our thoughts that what we know to be true and valid seems unreal and ephemeral.There seems to be little energy left for aught but futility. This is the great deception. By it whole peoples have gone down to oblivion without the will to affirm the great and permanent strength of the clean and the commonplace. Let us not be deceived. It is just as important as ever to attend to the little graces by which the dignity of our lives is maintained and sustained. Birds still sing; the stars continue to cast their gentle gleam over the desolation of the battlefields, and the heart is still inspired by the kind word and the gracious deed. There is no need to fear evil. There is every need to understand what it does, how it operates in the world, what it draws upon to sustain itself. We must not shrink from the knowledge of the evilness of evil. Over and over we must know that the real target of evil is not destruction of the body, the reduction to rubble of cities; the real target of evil is to corrupt the spirit of man and to give his soul the contagion of inner disintegration. When this happens, there is nothing left, the very citadel of man is captured and laid waste. Therefore the evil in the world around us must not be allowed to move from without to within. This would be to be overcome by evil. To drink in the beauty that is within reach, to clothe one’s life with simple deeds of kindness, to keep alive a sensitiveness to the movement of the spirit of God this is as always the ultimate answer to the great deception.
-Howard Thurman from Meditations of the Heart – written in 1953 (age 54)
Lord, Lord, Open Unto Me
Open unto me, light for my darkness, Open unto me, courage for my fear
Open unto me, hope for my despair, Open unto me, peace for my turmoil
Open unto me, joy for my sorrow, Open unto me, strength for my weakness
Open unto me, wisdom for my confusion, Open unto me, forgiveness for my sins
Open unto me, tenderness for my toughness, Open unto me, love for my hates
Open unto me, Thy Self for myself,
Lord, Lord, open unto me!
We wait. We wait, our Father, until at last something of thy strength becomes our strength, something of thy heart becomes our heart, something of thy forgiveness becomes our forgiveness. We wait, O God, we wait.
-Howard Thurman (1899-1981)
Give me the listening ear. I seek this day the ear that will not shrink from the word that challenges me to deeper consecration and higher resolve – the word that lays bare needs that make my own days uneasy, that seizes upon every good decent impulse of my nature, channeling it into paths of healing in the lives of others.
-Howard Thurman (1899-1981)