This past week I had the privilege to, not only spend time with 1000 young college-aged folks and their leaders to talk about life and faith at the 2009 Montreat College Conference, but I was able to break bread with a couple of pretty amazing people. While neither are giants in physical size, both Arline Taylor and John Lewis, are both giants in spirit.
Arline Taylor is one of those women of the church that slight of statue, southern in sound and strong in faith. I met Arline a little over 15 years ago when I was a student at San Francisco Theological Seminary. I also was charged withe helping Arline and her husband Randy Taylor, then President of the seminary and Moderator of the 195th General Assembly. I also trained their dog Archie, but that is a whole other story. While Randy certainly has a huge place in many of our hearts as seminary president and pastor and was widely known, all who have known Arline understand that she is a spiritual force all on her own. As they served the seminary together, Randy and Arline provided a presence of hospitality that made everyone feel like they were part of the family. On more than one occasion, students found themselves hanging out at the President's home, like it was . . . well . . . home. That time spent with them have shaped and formed my own understanding of the ministry, primarily reminding me that hospitality of space and spirit can change lives. Thank you.
The other person I was able to spend some time with was Congressmen John Lewis, giant in the Civil Rights movement. While the complexities of the civil rights movement in the south and Montreat were talked about, the power of meeting such a person was pretty amazing. As I was seated next to him, I kept saying to myself, "Don't geek out, don't ask dumb questions, don't assume too much of yourself, etc." The meal was wonderful and he was such a gentle but forceful spirit. I really should know better and know that most folks with these huge reputations are really just people. Still . . . this was John Lewis. Without sharing too much about the specifics of a casual conversation, I did have to pinch myself a little bit after realizing that I had sat and had a conversation with John Lewis about the congressional stimulus package, the Obama/Clinton presidential race and culture shifts of congress.
A good day I might say.
Ah and then there is THIS, more to follow.