In What Makes You Come Alive: A Spiritual Walk with Howard Thurman, Dr. Lerita Coleman Brown invites the reader into the life of Howard Thurman, sharing the significance of Thurman’s mysticism and spirituality for us today. In journeying with us, she offers reflection questions and spiritual next steps as we begin our journey of connection or reconnecting to the Spirit within us and all around us.
What Makes You Come Alive is a book about personhood and self-worth, which is especially important for marginalized and oppressed communities. In reflecting on and writing about Thurman, Dr. Coleman Brown uplifts the importance of seeing ourselves and seeing one another as “a holy child of God.” This is a source of personal affirmation and encouragement among life’s difficulties and challenges, and it is also a call and invitation to see others in a new way, even those we may perceive as our enemies. If we are “holy children of God,” then no one and nothing can stop us, and we will also commit to love, justice, and liberation for others. This commitment to love, justice, and liberation frees marginalized/oppressed and dominant communities alike.
As such, activism and spirituality is an important theme throughout the book. Dr. Coleman Brown enters Thurman into conversation with his mentors and people he admired, such as Mahatma Gandhi and Rufus Jones, those he mentored, such as Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rev. Dr. Pauli Murray, and other mystic activists such as Jarena Lee (who is recognized as the first African American woman to publicly preach) and Sojourner Truth. There is a history and tradition of mystic activists who have followed the call of the Spirit, and Dr. Coleman Brown invites us to join them, to become mystic activists in our own right.
Overall, Dr. Lerita Coleman Brown is encouraging us to center down. To take time to sit in silence and solitude. To find God in nature, in ourselves, in those around us, and in our sacred and private spaces. It is in these moments of silence and solitude that the Spirit can speak to us and lead us into new ways of being. And out of these meditative experiences, we can begin the work to which we are called that can change the world around us.