FROM THE EXECUTIVE SECRETARY:
(Episcopal Peace Fellowship Newsletter, Lent 2001)
The dictionary defines "mentor" as "a wise, loyal adviser," "a teacher or coach." We've all had such guides in our lives, I hope. I know I have had many and I am more keenly aware of some of them as I write precisely because I've lost two recently through their deaths: Mary Corinne Rosebrook and Sam Day. They died in January of this year, within two weeks of each other.
I don't know whether they ever met, but I do know they'd have liked each other a lot and would have found much to talk about and many comrades and concerns in common, and they would have laughed together at the joy and given-ness of living.
I think that neither Mary Corinne nor Sam were particularly aware of their mentoring of me in the peace and justice movement. I know they thought of me as a colleague, which I've always considered a powerful honor and a tribute to their own humility about what they were doing with their lives.
What they did with their lives was to put one foot in front of the other, to do what was given them to do.
Publicly, Mary Corinne was a Latin teacher and active community and church member. Less publicly she was - at least for me - a quiet, steady and true peacemaker and wall-breacher.
She was a founding member of the Episcopal Peace Fellowship and remained an active member until a few years ago. She was almost 108 when she died. I think she must have been the very first person to point me in the direction of the Episcopal Peace Fellowship, way back in the early 60s when I was the young curate's wife in her parish.
I didn't do anything about it until another friend of hers, and another mentor of mine, Herschel Halbert, nudged me toward EPF a few years and a hotter war later. Corinne and Herschel had traveled to far corners of this globe on peace missions of one sort or another.
I learned about some of these adventures from Corinne only after Herschel died. Each trip was for Corinne an exciting opportunity to meet sisters and brothers who hungered for justice and peace, each trip held the possibility of making some progress that goal.
Sam took one step at a time too; though admittedly he went looking for some of the trouble he got into, he deliberately and methodically moved forward toward peace with justice, and if a front door closed in his face, he'd go 'round to the back door.
We'd meet for morning coffee at Union Station when he came to Washington and always there'd be a plan when we finished. And I always came away refreshed and ready for whatever had to be done that day.
I was introduced to Sam by Mary Lou Suhor, former editor of The Witness. When I phoned to tell Mary Lou of Sam's death, she shared her own first meeting: he interviewed her for that job, over coffee, at a train station. He wrote for The Witness and other periodicals often and well. His writing has always captured for me the necessity of challenging the powers of darkness wherever we are, and from them and him I always had new energy for the work given me to do.
Mentoring is something I think we don't take seriously enough in our work for justice and peace. We all need to be taught, not just about the issues but about how to make a difference, how to influence change for good, how to discern and do what God is giving us to do.
Even so, from observing and living in the company of Corinne and Sam and a dozen others, I know that mentoring may not be something that happens consciously. If that's the case, then we each just have to be aware that we are always learners, disciples, and that we ought to keep a sharp eye out for those who can mentor us.
And so we each also must be aware that someone may see in us a mentor.
I find this to be a challenge almost too great to bear on discouraging days or when I'm immobilized by the state of the world and my own weary soul. Yet even in our weariness we have something to teach and that is how to bear it and how to get on with the work.
This work we do is very rarely full of "success" stories. But of all the things I've learned in my life, what really keeps me going is the knowledge that we do not travel alone, that others count on us to remain faithful to the task and the journey.
So it is that today, in mid-winter 2001 when so much is not right with the world, today is a good day, one in which the cloud of witnesses - two souls in particular right now - keep me going.
More than anything, I hope you have your own cloud of witnesses to guide and encourage you.