Have you ever had a transformative day? It’s a rare thing, but oh so powerful. I've had a few and they often have something to do with meeting people that are far removed from my own personal context.
Recently, I met a young woman who has just completed her masters of Divinity. A beautiful, charming, intelligent, spiritually enlightened person who is hoping to be ordained as a United Church minister in May. Miriam is confined to a wheelchair, her body and voice corrupted by a cruel disease. Understanding her speech was difficult at first – the words so hard for her to produce. I could imagine her frustration as she tried to express the thoughts churning in her mind – such intelligent thoughts that came out laboured yet so articulate.
I attended two workshops with Miriam and was awed by her unabashed desire to participate in the discussions and activities. There was no holding her back and there will be no holding her back in the future. This is a woman with strength, substance and soul. She is going places and has it in her to make the world a better place.
In the Old Testament, Miriam was the older sister of Moses. She also became Israel’s first female prophet. In the Exodus story, after crossing the Red Sea, Miriam leads a group of women in a song that scholars say is one of the oldest poems of the Bible. Miriam wasn’t perfect – she had her flaws, but she had the tenacity to stand up for herself and her faith during a time of struggle and hardship.
I’m sure it’s not the first time that these two Miriams have been compared, but I think the Miriam I met the other day was as much an inspiration to me as the Biblical Miriam would have been to her contemporaries in the Old Testament story from about 3500 years ago.