Howard Thurman (1889–1991) has been heralded for his pioneer work in race relations and his role as a spiritual advisor to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. As the first black dean at a white university and as cofounder of the first interracially pastored church in the United States, this prolific minister, mystic, and theologian offered messages of hope and transformation to those open to change and activism.

In Meditations of the Heart, Thurman presents 54 transformative meditations on a variety of spiritual practices including the following ones from the Alphabet of Spiritual Literacy: compassion, enthusiasm, faith, grace, listening, love, openness, peace, silence, unity, and vision. In this passage, Thurman honors the Presence of God within:

"There is in every person an inward sea, and in that sea
there is an island and on that island there is an altar
and standing guard before the altar is the 'angel with
the flaming sword.' Nothing can get by that angel to be
placed upon the altar unless it has the mark of your
inner authority. Nothing passes 'the angel with the
flaming sword' to be placed upon your altar unless
it be part of 'the fluid area of your consent.' This is
your crucial link with the Eternal."

Thurman advised Dr. King and members of the Civil Rights movement to integrate contemplative spiritual practices into their nonviolent demonstrations and peace activities. Maya Angelou has written "I have read Howard Thurman and been informed, influenced, and girded by his courage, intelligence, and abiding love." That is certainly how we felt reading his heart-based reflections on our relationship with God, prayer, community, and the challenges of being kind and gracious beings.

Thurman once wrote: "Life abounds in all variety of resources and resourcefulness. Every moment is a divine encounter, every facet is an exposure to the boundless energies by which life is sustained and our spirits made whole."

Here are a few of our favorite meditations in this extraordinary devotional resource:

Silence Is a Door to God
The Growing Edge
God Is Present
Enthusiasm and Self-Sacrifice
The Glad Surprise
Teach Me Thy Grace
Lord, Lord, Open to Me
The Moments of High Resolve