No one knows if Harriet Tubman really uttered these words, but there isn’t any question that she lived them. Harriet was born into slavery and raised in a world with no hope. Still, she dreamed her dreams and did what she had to do. She broke the law of the land by following the North Star to freedom. Where did a woman who was whipped as a child get that kind of courage?
Harriet had a deep and abiding faith that she was being guided. She was steadfast in her conviction that all she had to do was keep going and God would take care of the details. She shepherded over 300 slaves to freedom. If any of her fugitive charges became faint-hearted and wanted to turn around, she threatened to shoot them. Turning back could mean death to them all. She gave them no choice but to keep going.
I too have been known to buckle and want to backtrack. Somehow the pain of the mundane seems safer than pioneering into new territory. The only way I’m be able to move past that kind of paralyzation is to borrow some of Miss Harriet’s grit. She always remembered to ask for direction and then listen for the answer. The way was always made clear. What stands between me and that kind of guidance? Remembering to ask. Harriet’s life has been a beacon to many. In Hillary Clinton’s 2008 speech for the Democratic convention, she shared my admiration.
There are many books written about this remarkable woman’s life. One of my favorites is Courage to Run by my friend, Wendy Lawton.
Text and images © Sue Shanahan. All rights reserved.