My friend Phyllis turns 80 today!
I met Phyllis through my work in the Doctor of Ministry and Berry Center for Lifelong Learning work at Fuller Theological Seminary. I had known her by reputation, and by her books, but nothing prepared me for actually meeting her.
Phyllis is a good Tennessee woman, proper, gracious, and dignified. She has a quick wit, a radiant smile, and a contagious laugh. Don’t be fooled. She is tough and wise and insightful. She will work her way into your life and encourage you to think in new ways. If you don’t open your mind willfully, she will threaten you grab you by the neck and the heart! Smiling!
I had lunch with Phyllis and some friends last week. Lunch with Phyllis is like spending time in a blender. The conversation never stops. We laugh. We sense God’s grace. We speak with sadness about the current state of the church, but we know that God is still on the move. Phyllis wonders about what God is up to, and how God is revealing. She wonders with excitement about new forms of church emerging. She moves from topic to topic, informed, well read, and opinionated! I finish lunch exhausted and at the same time energized and hopeful.
Phyllis is rooted strongly in Scripture, a Trinitarian view of God, the traditions of the church, and by a deep personal faith. That anchoring allows her to move outside of the box that often traps people in stale religion and fear. She gladly receives from the Lord with a sense of amazement and she encourages us to look over the horizon, to embrace what is before us, to ask What’s next?
Phyllis, I am so glad to know you and count you as a friend. Happy Birthday to you!