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Featured Book for January 2024

What Makes You Come Alive: A Spiritual Walk with Howard Thurman

by Lerita Coleman Brown

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”–Howard Thurman

Known as the godfather of the civil rights movement, Howard Thurman served as a spiritual adviser to Martin Luther King Jr. and other leaders and activists in the 1960s. Thurman championed silence, contemplation, common unity, and nonviolence as powerful dimensions of social change. But Dr. Lerita Coleman Brown didn’t learn about him during her years of spiritual-direction training. Only when a friend heard of her longing to encounter the work of Black contemplatives did she finally learn about Thurman, his mystical spirituality, and his liberating ethic.

In What Makes You Come Alive, Brown beckons readers into their own apprenticeship with Thurman. Brown walks with us through Thurman’s inimitable life and commitments as he summons us into centering down, encountering the natural world, paying attention to sacred synchronicity, unleashing inner authority, and recognizing the genius of the religion of Jesus. We learn from Thurman’s resilience in the psychologically terrorizing climate of the Jim Crow South, his encounters with Quakers and with Mahatma Gandhi, and his sense of being guided by the Spirit. Each chapter illuminates an aspect of Thurman’s work and includes reflection questions and spiritual practices.

Decades after their deaths, sages like Howard Thurman offer spiritual kinship and guidance for our contemporary life. Thurman’s spirituality enlivened an entire movement, and it can awaken us to intimacy with God and to authentic action today.

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Community Questions

Week 1

  1. Although known for his relationship with silence, Howard Thurman also used Negro spirituals as guides. What music is a guiding light to you?
  2. How would you describe your experience with silence, stillness, and solitude?
  3. Are you comfortable with silence, does it make you feel ill at ease, or something altogether different?

Week 2

  1. Have you ever had a deeply spiritual or transcendent experience out in nature?
  2. Do you feel as if you are a part of nature, one with and in harmony with it?
  3. Describe an incident of divine intervention, holy coincidence, or synchronicity in your life.

Week 3

  1. After reading the chapter on sacred synchronicity, can you recognize a pattern of divine intervention or syncronicity you may not have previously connected before?
  2. Name an instance in which you used discernment to make an important decision.
  3. Have you ever had a mystical experience in which you felt at one with everything?

Week 4

  1. Describe a time that you had to use your inner authority.
  2. Who have been spiritual mentors to you?
  3. Name three things that make you come alive?