Today was my best day ever at Harvard. I have been here three weeks and set my first milestone. There is a professor whom I and many others consider the poster child of everything that Harvard and its Divinity School represent in terms of embodying holier-than-thou standards of intellect, ethics and eloquence.
Last week, I went to hear the renowned Jonathon Walton preach at Harvard’s Memorial Church Sunday service. I noticed a young woman wearing a black velvet robe who read the prayer and scripture. As soon as I got home, I emailed my advisor and asked, “Can I do that?” I learned that here at Harvard, the administration’s mission is make your dream come true.
A couple of days later, I got an email from an undergraduate student deacon of the church inviting me to read Psalm 1. I thought, ‘If it’s that easy, then God is involved,’ meaning that God helped me read at this church.
The following Sunday came, which was today. I was so nervous. I had never really tried to read out loud into a microphone while having a miniature heart attack before, but I did it! Then all of a sudden, I realized that my father died of cancer in 1997 because the moment my aristocratic Taiwanese family cursed and disowned me for having a dream to enter the ministry, he swallowed that curse into his own body, so that I could be free. He suffered and he died so that I could live this dream. A man died, so that a woman could speak.
What I was blessed with was ten seconds of reading scripture at a pulpit. Even though it was only ten seconds—those were my ten seconds. God was watching what I’d do with each and every one of those seconds. Even though I was shaking inside, the Holy Spirit came upon the people. I read slowly and effectively. In the end, I sat down in my seat, as still as a mountain, breathing calmly.
At the end of service, at least twenty people came up to me and told me they were transfixed by the reading. Others said they felt like someone had cast a spell on them. Others said they had never heard scripture read that way, so deeply.
‘That was God,’ I thought. He must have come through the words coming from my mouth to touch each person there because I asked him to, but also because he knew the price my father paid for every syllable, which was his life.
I know that I am standing here because a man paid his life for mine and cast away his years of growing old with his wife, so that his daughter, me, could follow her dream. This is one of the best ways to celebrate his sacrifice, with my success.