Friday, May 23, 2008

Volunteer Spotlight: God's (Latest) Gift to NPL

There's a spark of the divine in NPL volunteers--they're giving the most precious gift anyone can give: their time.

For Kenneth Cracknell and Susan White, pursuit of the divine has been a full-time job: they're theologians.

They have authored boxfuls of books individually and together: he on interfaith dialogue, she on women and worship, they on the history of Methodism, among their many topics and titles. Kenneth was the head of interfaith dialogue for the British Council of Churches. Their theological pursuits seem to be more about the search for unifying truths than rationales for narrow doctrine.

Nearly two years ago the two decamped from their last full-time gig at a Texas divinity school to head to Norwich, where they immediately rolled up their sleeves to give their time to a variety of community causes. Both came right in and volunteered at the library. In addition, Susan sings in the choir and is a deacon at the Norwich Congregational Church. She role-plays patients with a variety of disorders and dysfunctions to students at Dartmouth Medical School. Kenneth runs a fascinating and well-attended theology study group from their home, for which Susan bakes a variety of decadent desserts and chimes in as the spirit moves her. He's taught classes on religion for the ILEAD program at Dartmouth. He's treasurer of the Friends of the Library.

And those are just the commitments that I know about. God only knows (pun intended) what else these two are up to.

For two people relatively new to the community, their familiarity with NPL patrons is extraordinary. They make me think of my own mama's conviction: there's hardly any such thing as a stranger. They are as warm as they are wise.

If I didn't know Whom to thank for such bright lights before, I have a pretty good idea now.