Remembering Sono Harris
Sono Harris, Joyful Mother of Children
For twenty-one years Basic Skills presented the Winter Home Schooling Workshop. Sono Harris was among the many speakers who made regular presentations. Sadly for us, on July 4, Sono passed away after battling cancer.
My wife Jenny and I met Gregg and Sono in the early 80’s when the home school movement was just beginning. While Sono was in the habit of saying “no” to a number of invitations to speak at various functions and events, she always said “yes” to our conference.
Many mothers came simply to hear her. While the men had something worth listening too, they were, after all, still men and did not (or could not) relate or address the topics these mothers needed to hear, to where they were living. While all of our speakers were respected, appreciated, and their expertise recognized and helpful, Sono was all of the above but more importantly, loved.
In the early 90’s she addressed basic, practical topics. But as the home school movement grew, her children as well everyone else’s grew up with it and her focused changed.
Mothers came not so much to hear her teach how to do something, but how to live. Sono filled with them with hope, and that’s what they needed. Many were ready to quit and were tired. But just being around her helped them stay the course. She was gracious, and she lifted spirits. She shared insights that could only be truly understood as spoken by one mother and wife to other mothers and wives. They listened to her because she was completely invested in whatever she was involved in.
I think of Sono when I read the kingdom parable described in Matthew 13:44. “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy, went and sold all he had and bought the field.” She was like that merchant. She held nothing back when it came to her Lord, family, and again, to whatever she committed to. She was, as one of the titles of a talk she gave, a “Joyful Mother of Children.” She invested deeply and completely.
Because of this, her life experiences were rich. She had a way of pulling back the curtain of her life just enough and then inviting the mothers in her seminars to get a glimpse. She related in such a way to those she spoke to that at times it was like having a personal conversation with her. She had the ability to distill ideas into something her listeners could easily take in and remember. If she felt she needed to present a correction (attitude, point of view, etc.), she did so in a way that her listeners did not feel scolded or reprimanded.
As I mentioned before, in her later presentations her topics and focus changed. Near the end our twenty-one years of home school conferences, she spoke more about the difficult issues of life that she and other mothers had in common. Mothers felt she identified with their struggles.
I remember one talk she gave which was titled, “An Anchor for the Soul” in which she introduced her presentation by speaking about the desire most wives and mothers have for stability. She then spent the rest of her session talking about change and in particular suffering. She said “motherhood is about change in a progressively painful direction.” She was talking about the separation we experience with our children as we move through the stages of life.” All of us go through this.
At the end of this particular session, she posed the following questions, “What am I to do with this, how am I to manage this? How am I to handle this suffering, loss, and pain.” She talked about “increasing the sacrifices we make (as mothers) while reducing the expectation of immediate returns.” She said, “It’s about spending all that you have, and letting go. When we embrace God’s will, everything changes.”
In referring to the kingdom parable described in Matthew 13:44, she said the key word was “bought.” We must buy the field. Often we think the field God wants us to buy will be attractive and pleasurable, but it’s often bleak, with trouble, pain, suffering, and loss. But there is treasure in that field. The loss and suffering we experience drives us to the only dependable anchor for our souls, Jesus Christ. That is where our suffering finds its greatest meaning.
For Sono, Jesus was that priceless treasure, and now she is enjoying his presence in person. Sono Harris was and is a joyful mother of children.
If you’d like to make a donation to help the Harris family during this difficult time, an account has been set up at West Coast Bank. Donations can be made at any branch in Oregon and Washington. The account number is 1141007201 under Sono Sato Harris. To read more about the life of this remarkable wife and mother, go to www.joshharris.com.
Curt Bumcrot is the founder and director of Basic Skills Assessment and Educational Services. He has been active both as a teacher and administrator in Christian Schools. He and his wife, Jenny, who home schooled their three children, currently reside in Oregon City.