Terri is the middle child in our family. That’s her in the light-colored coat and hat in the foreground.
Our common environment included a comfortable upper-middle class upbringing with a loving family, good schools, medical and dental care, and only the occasional aberration of some all too human attribute to … strongly shape … our developing selves.
We would all attend college, me the least, Terri the most. We would all marry, have children and grandchildren, experience great sorrows but each find our own way through to become who we now are.
We have many more things in common.
One of these is a profound respect and admiration for the teachings of Thích Nhất Hạnh, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk who has been an inspiration and spiritual leader for many. Terri has mentioned him from time to time; I have many of his books on my shelf where they landed after providing considerable inspiration through life’s difficulties. Wendy, the first of the three of us to be born, lives his teachings without ever mentioning or displaying any direct knowledge. Perhaps she knows his name or perhaps not but, regardless, she knows his teachings.
But theologically, we have all strayed some distance from our Union Avenue Memphis Tennessee Presbyterian upbringing. Readers of my blog will, for example, find my searching and ultimate identification as an Open Theist.
Wendy is, well, I don’t know what Wendy would say so I won’t try. She is, nonetheless, a very centered person. In ways that I think Thích Nhất Hạnh would understand, she lives her theology.
Terri, on the other hand, has found her theological home in the Unitarian community, of late in the San Antonio Texas area.
And it is there, in an auction not too long ago, where she won the opportunity to specify the topic of an upcoming sermon, to be written and delivered by their minister.
Terri chose, “the blessings of gratitude for diversity and differentness of people.”
Listening to the resulting sermon, I find that even with our dramatic political differences and the very divergent lives the three of us have lived since leaving the home of our shared upbringing, we all remain in the deepest agreement on this.
I know it is a topic our mother would embrace with great pride as well as deep agreement.
And it is in that recognition that I understand how, in spite of the differences the years have brought, that we remain so deeply connected.
Because it is in her, our mother, that we are joined in this ideal.