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Featured Book for September 2023

Walking the Way of Harriet Tubman: Public Mystic and Freedom Fighter

by Therese Taylor-Stinson

Harriet Tubman, freedom fighter and leader in the Underground Railroad, is one of the most significant figures in U.S. history. Her courage and determination in bringing enslaved people to freedom have established her as an icon of the abolitionist movement. But behind the history of the heroine called “Moses” was a woman of deep faith.

In Walking the Way of Harriet Tubman, Therese Taylor-Stinson introduces Harriet, a woman born into slavery whose unwavering faith and practices in spirituality and contemplation carried her through insufferable abuse and hardship to become a leader for her people. Her profound internal liberation came from deep roots in mysticism, Christianity, nature spirituality, and African Indigenous beliefs that empowered her own escape from enslavement–giving her the strength and purpose to lead others on the road to freedom.

Harriet’s lived spirituality illuminates a profound path forward for those of us longing for internal freedom, as well as justice and equity in our communities. As people of color, we must cultivate our full selves for our own liberation and the liberation of our communities. As the luminous significance of Harriet Tubman’s spiritual life is revealed, so too is the path to our own spiritual truth, advocacy, and racial justice as we follow in her footsteps.

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Community Questions

Community Questions from Claudia Love Mair

Week 1

  1. Therese describes Harriet Tubman as a public mystic. Name some qualities you believe a public mystic has.
  2. Who would you say is a public mystic today?
  3. On page 16 Therese recounts the aspects of Indigenous African mysticism. What are some of the expressions of the spirituality of your ancestors?

Week 2

  1. Harriet's brain injury caused her to have visions, a powerful witness to how the Holy works through our limitations. What limitations does the Holy work through in your life?
  2. The first item on the shelf available to us from Harriet's apothecary is centering prayer. p. 28. Name some nourishing intentions you can bring to the practice of centering prayer.
  3. According to Therese, Desert Mother Amma Syncletica once wrote, "It is possible to be a solitary in one's mind while living in a crowd..." How does living the call to be a monk in the world look in your life?

Week 3

  1. On page 96 Therese writes that Harriet's courage gave her the emotional freedom she needed to heal and access her mystical inclinations and move on to physical freedom. What has courage given you?
  2. "To escape your enslavers is to take ownership of your life." What does ownership of your life look like to you? How can you help marginalized people gain ownership of their lives?
  3. Therese writes on page 102 that she "learned freedom was more than a physical relocation; it was a relocation of their identity as children of a loving, merciful God." In what ways do you cultivate this kind of emotional freedom in your life?

Week 4

  1. The lyrics to the negro spiritual "Oh Freedom," appear on page 109. How would some lines to a personal freedom song written by you read?
  2. Therese tells us that both historical and present day freedom fighters know the road to freedom is a continual process. It's an on-going struggle to pullback the layers of enslavement we encounter along the way. Harriet gathered ancestral wisdom and faith to gain freedom. What do you gather to gain freedom?
  3. On pages 140-141, Therese guides readers into the practice of writing a prayer. Write your own freedom prayer and share some or all of it with our community.