“Pretty good seats, wouldn’t you say?” my colleague quietly suggested. Trying to maintain some level of decorum I responded with a smile. He continued in very hushed tones, “Don’t look, but do you see who’s sitting directly behind us?”
Well of course I was intrigued, so I ever so slightly looked to my right hoping to a catch a glimpse of my friend’s celebrity sighting. Not as stealthy as I had hoped, I turned my head a little more than I intended and our eyes connected. She smiled and quietly said, “Good morning.” Fortunately I had the presence to respond in kind, “Good morning, Madame Secretary.”
Thirty minutes later, at the Peace during the worship I instinctually turned around and offered the Peace to Secretary Albright. “And also with you,” she replied and then continued, “Isn’t this quite a wonderful service.” We proceeded to have a wonderful 30 second conversation – who knew she had such a great sense of humor!
Presiding Bishop Michael Curry wrote this on the occasion of her passing this last week:
“We mourn the loss of Madeleine Albright, committed Episcopalian and trailblazing ambassador. I am particularly thankful for her guiding belief that religious leaders have an essential role to play in foreign policy, and for her Anglican sensibility in navigating difference and diversity, which she expressed so well in her book, “Madame Secretary”:
“Instead of seeking yet more data to defend what we already think, we need to learn what others think, and why they think it. Instead of conspiring with the like-minded, we need to spend more time learning from those we consider wrongheaded. Even while we challenge the premises of those with whom we disagree, we should take the time to re-examine the logic of our own thinking.”
While some may disagree with Secretary Albright’s political perspectives, there are very few who question her intellect and capacity for critical thinking. The quote that the Presiding Bishop selected is quintessential Albright and is applicable in both our personal and professional lives.
Giving thanks this day for Secretary Albright and her witness to how we can all engage and learn from those we find ourselves in disagreement with.