By Pastor Nancy Lee Gauche
I heard Krista Tippett’s interview with Vincent Harding the other day. Vincent Harding is Professor Emeritus of Religion and Social Transformation at the Iliff School of Theology in Denver, Colorado. Back in 1955, he paid a life-changing visit to Martin Luther King Jr. Vincent Harding says that the phrase “civil rights” never adequately described King’s vision or the human transformation that it stirred. By the early 1960s, Vincent Harding and his late wife, Rosemarie, had moved to Atlanta, just around the corner from the Kings. They founded Mennonite House there, which helped the civil rights movement develop its philosophy and its practice of nonviolence.
What caught my imagination in this interview was their conversation around “signposts.” Dr. Harding talked about what young people need in their lives are some signposts…
Dr. Harding: …he, like many other young people, were operating in a situation where they felt it was just very, very dark all around them. And what they needed were, as he put it, some signposts, some lights that would in other peoples’ lives help them …
Ms. Tippett: “Live human signposts,” you wrote.
Dr. Harding: Yes, yes. That would help them to see the possibilities for themselves. I’ve always felt that one of the things that we do badly in our educational process, …is that we educate them to figure out how quickly they can get out of the darkness and get into some much more pleasant situation when what is needed again and again are more and more people who will stand in that darkness, who will not run away from those deeply hurt communities and will open up possibilities that other people can ‘t see in any other way except seeing it through human beings who care about them. And if we teach young people to run away from the darkness rather than to open up the light in the darkness, to be the candles, the signposts, then we are doing great harm to them and the communities that they have come out of.
Interview taken from On Being with Krista Tippett Feb. 7, 2013 America Public Media
So when I think about CYF Ministry, I think about “signposts” and what this image of signposts means for the first third of life. LIVE HUMAN SIGNPOSTS. Signposts aren’t the only light but they shed light, dispel darkness, and open up a way so we can move around in the darkness.
I’ve received a couple of “live human signposts” in the last week. The living light of these “live human signposts” have been:
- Meg Jay who wrote an intriguing book called The Defining Decade Why your twenties matter—and how to make the most of them NOW. She purports that many twentysomethings have been caught in a swirl of hype and misinformation that has trivialized what is actually the most transformative period of our adult lives. LIVE HUMAN SIGNPOSTS
- A young man in his twenties who shared with me through tears and brokenness how he hates his life and himself. How sick he is of who he is and the life he is living. Reminding me of the deep pain that young adults live in every day. LIVE HUMAN SIGNPOSTS
- A new life in this world, our grandbaby, Ruby Grace. A miracle from God in so many ways. And I wonder when she is in high school, who will be her “human living signpost” to share the Light of Christ? And I pray along with the Psalmist; “O God, do not forsake me until I proclaim your might to all the generations to come…O God, who is like you” LIVE HUMAN SIGNPOSTS
My challenge to anyone reading this…will you be that LIVE HUMAN SIGNPOST in the world of a young person in darkness or in a dark place or world? To be part of the “Light” that will open up our best capacities and our best gifts for this generation and the next.
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Nancy Lee is a pastor, leader and teacher/learner who gets a kick out of developing leaders for public ministry.
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