So, the top crust above us, those heroes and sheroes who mentored us, whose words we relished whether spoken or written, those who have blazed the path for us, who are the buffer between our lives and death, are moving on. Holly Near sings, “Every paper brings the news that the teachers of my song are moving on.” Today I googled the name of one such person, the Rev. Dr. Margaret Guenther, whom I met in 1998 at the Mercy Center in Burlingame, CA, at a Spiritual Directors International Conference. I was there also to check out Ph.D. opportunities at Graduate Theological Union/Berkeley. I was hoping to do something on holistic spirituality. I was a “runner” for the pre-conference event for spiritual director training. I stood up to speak and asked the question, “What would our spirituality look like if it emerged out of a Middle Eastern (i.e. Judaic, etc.) philosophy rather than a Greek philosophical basis,” foreign to the former which was the culture of both Hebrew and Christian scriptures. People loved the question. I spent a little time with Margaret in her room. She told me to forget the Ph.D. and write the book!
Well, 19 years later I have neither, but I think I may have begun a sabbatical (picked up here and there this year) and have begun to write a dissertation or (a) book(s).
I only saw Margaret once again, and I keep hoping people are still alive, though that is not really fair to them, probably having earned their rest through the labor of their lives. Margaret died December 11, 2016. There is something about realizing that the earthly opportunity to see her or talk to her or others again has also departed.
My encounters were brief, but I have carried the initial one all these years, remembering this kind, older face with bright eyes, who sensed I was on to something.
Her words are deeply connected to my life’s work in the different forms it has taken: pastor, spiritual director, labyrinth facilitator, Enneagram teacher, Reiki master, founder of Project Empower, and executive director of the Coffee Connection.
Thank you, Margaret, for those words, which I will never forget.