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Editorial Reflections

Wherever we are, we take moments to be God’s presence for people
The notion that the local is global and the global is local was reinforced as I met people at the World Council of Churches (WCC) Assembly and as I reflect on the contributions of one of The Fig Tree founders, Carl Milton, who died on Nov. 20. 

It was uncanny that in the first two days at the assembly I met people who had been to Spokane or knew people here—small world.  When I said I was from Spokane, Maake Masanga from South Africa said he had been at Whitworth University. Sirirat Pusurinkham from Thailand and I recognized we had previously met—maybe at another assembly.  Perhaps, but she had been on the cover of The Fig Tree in November 2011 when she visited to be at First Presbyterian’s Jubilee International Marketplace with friend Nancy McCabe.

In a small group talking about issues for women and the church, I mentioned my daughter.  When I gave her name, Marijke Fakasiieiki, Moumita Biswas recognized that she knew her from when Marijke spent a year as an intern at the World Council of Churches Ecumenical Centre in Geneva.  In fact, I greeted many people as Marijke’s mom.

I also reconnected with friends I knew from studies with the WCC, previous assemblies, my denomination and other contexts, and I made new friends.

Global friendships give us new eyes to see what is happening here and elsewhere, and new ears to hear perspectives here and around the globe.  These contacts help us see that consistency in faith and life are possible and we need to be in solidarity with each other to make that happen.

Carl Milton
Carl Milton, Fig Tree Founder

So as I reflect on the life of one of The Fig Tree founders, Carl Milton, I see a consistency.  A physics teacher at Lewis and Clark High School, he was a teacher in his home, church, friendships, ecumenical commitments and interest in the world. 

Learning and teaching were central to his life, including a one-year job-home-car exchange with a teacher in Australia and teaching English in 1988-89 in China.

Carl connected ideas and issues.  He questioned, listened and reflected on the relationship of science, religion and history.  As a scholar, poet, artist, mathematician, professor, joker, performer, philosopher, storyteller, musician, mentor, spiritual guide and friend, as his daughter Ruth Michaelis describes, he taught, knowing how to pique the curiosity of students and anyone he met.

For him, living a Christ-like life was what faith was about, that meant not holding in “contempt or disregard any human person for any reason at any time,” Ruth said.

Everywhere we go, every moment with a person here or anywhere else is a special encounter, an opportunity to learn and teach.  Whether here or far away, we are called to be God’s presence to make a difference in someone’s life.  We may lighten a load by listening to stories that inspire solidarity; send aid to disaster victims; see abilities of those with some disabilities; connect gender justice with community safety; hear cries of anger, lament, care and hope as part of healing; see oppression in our own back yards; drop everything to rebuild homes before winter; realize we can find agreement despite differences, and enter into a pilgrimage for peace and justice.

Mary Stamp - editor

Copyright © December 2013 - The Fig Tree