Words of Wisdom
by Dr Howard Thurman

There must be always remaining in the individual life some place for the singing of angels -- some place for that which in itself is breathlessly beautiful and by an inherent prerogative, throwing all the rest of life into a new and creative relatedness -- something that gathers up in itself all the freshets of experience from drab and commonplace areas of living and glows in one bright light of penetrating beauty and meaning -- then passes. The commonplace is shot through with new glory -- old burdens become lighter, deep and ancient wounds lose much of their old, old hurting. A crown is placed over our heads that for the rest of our lives we are trying to grow tall enough to wear. Despite all the crassness of life, despite all the hardness of life, despite all the harsh discords of life, life is saved by the singing of angels.

Look well to the growing edge. All around us worlds are dying and new worlds are being born; all around us life is dying and life is being born. The fruit ripens on the tree, the roots are silently at work in the darkness of the earth against a time when there shall be new leaves, fresh blossoms, green fruit. Such is the growing edge. It is the extra breath from the exhausted lung, the one more thing to try when all else has failed, the upward reach of life when weariness closes in upon all endeavor. This is the basis of hope in moments of despair, the incentive to carry on when times are out of joint and men and women have lost their reason, the source of confidence when worlds crash and dreams whiten into ash. Such is the growing edge incarnate. Look well to the growing edge.

As long as we hold a dream in the heart, we cannot lose the significance of living. The dream in the heart is one with the living water welling up from the very spring of Being, nourishing and sustaining all of life. Where there is no dream, the life becomes a swamp, a dreary dead place and, deep within, the heart begins to rot.
dreams The dream need not be some overwhelming plan; it need not be a dramatic picture of what must be some day. Such may be important for some; such may be crucial to a particular moment in human history. But it is not in these grand ways that the dream nourishes life. The dream is the quiet persistence in the heart that enables us to ride out the storms of our churning experiences. It is the exciting whisper moving through the aisles of the spirit, answering the monotony of limitless days of dull routine. It is the ever-recurring melody in the midst of the broken harmonies of human conflict. It is the touch of significance which highlights the ordinary experience, the common event. The dream is no outward thing. It does not take its use from the environment in which one moves or functions. It lives in the inward parts, it is deep within, where the issues of life an death are ultimately determined. Keep alive the dream; for as long as we hold a dream in the heart, we cannot lose the significance of living.

We who seek community within our own spirit, who search for it in our experiences with the literal facts of the external world, who make this our formal intent as we seek to bring order out of the chaos of the collective, are not going against life but will be sustained and supported by life. In the conflicts between individuals, between group and group, between nation and nation, the loneliness of the seeker of community is sometimes unendurable. Yet the radical tensionlight-dark between good and evil, as we see it and feel it, does not have the last word about the meaning of life an the nature of existence. There is a spirit in us and in the world working always against the thing that destroys and lays waste. Always we must know that the contradictions of life are not final or ultimate, we must distinguish between failure and a many-sided awareness so that we will not mistake conformity for harmony, uniformity for synthesis. We must know that for all to be alike is the death of life in all, and yet perceive the harmony that transcends diversities and in which diversity finds its richness and significance.

The more hectic the life of the cities, the more greedy and lustful the heart and mind become, the more we forget the meaning of the twilights, the radiant glowing skies and endless landscapes. But it is not too late. Our cities may yet be saved. There is still time to remember twilightthat there is twilight, the creative isthmus joining day with night. It is the time of pause when nature changes her guard. It is the lung of time by which the rhythmic respiration of day and night are guaranteed and sustained. All living things would fade and die from too much light or too much darkness, if twilight were not. In the midst of all the madness of the present hour, twilights remain, and will settle down upon the world at the close of day and usher in the nights in endless succession, despite bombs, rockets, and flying death. This is good to remember.

It is my belief that in the Presence of God there is neither male nor female, white nor black, Gentile or Jew, Protestant nor Catholic, Hindu, Buddhist, nor Moslem, but a human spirit stripped to the literal substances of itself before God. Wherever man has this sense of the Eternal in his spirit, he hunts for it in his home, in his work, among his friends, in his pleasures and in all the levels of his function. It is my simple faith that this is the kind of universe that sustains that kind of adventure, and what we see dimly now in the churning confusion and chaos of our tempestuous times will some day be the common experience of all the children of men everywhere.

-- Dr. Howard Thurman
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