Monday, September 04, 2006

Surgical Wisdom

This past week saw the death of Verna Dozier, an Episcopalian lay theologian. I thank the world of blogs for letting me know who she was. One of the blogs I quite enjoy reading is written by an Episcopalian priest, Elizabeth Kaeton, whom I have never met, although she serves a congregation not that far from me. I stumbled with joy across her blog recently. It is called Telling Secrets. Thank you Elizabeth-whom-I-do-not-know for your words. I may just have to stop into your church some fine Sunday.

Here is one of her memories about Verna Dozier, may her soul rejoice in Glory.

My favorite memory of Verna Dozier is the "charge" she gave to Jane Holmes Dixon at her consecration at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.

I'll never forget it.

Ms. Verna, also affectionately described by neophytes to the church as "that little itty bity African-American woman," was in that grand stone pulpit, standing on a box and yet still not quite visible from the congregation.

When it came time for the "consecration charge," she peered up over the microphone and, speaking like the spiritual giant she was said, "Jane Holmes Dixon, stand up."

And, of course, Jane did. Immediately.

She cleared her throat and began, "Every leader in Christian community most often wants one thing," she said, pausing before she continued, "They want desperately to be loved."

The silence was deafening. Everyone in that big cavernous cathedral who knew anything about Christian leadership knew exactly what she was talking about. We held our collective breath waiting for what was coming next.

"Jane Holmes Dixon," said Ms. Verna (but she was speaking to everyone else in the congregation, herself included), "you must find that place in you that wants desperately to be loved . . . and," she slowed down for effect, ". . . let . . .it . . . die."

I could hear myself gasp even over the gasps of recognition all around me.

I'll never forget that moment. Ever.

Whew. This one goes straight through the bones right into the cells. Thank you Verna, and thank you Elizabeth.


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