The first time I met Lindor Reynolds she stood out. She was, I think, the very first member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnist to come from somewhere other than the United States. She was a columnist with the Winnipeg Free-Press.
And a fabulous, prize-winning writer, too. (In this 2005 photo from our NSNC conference near Dallas, Lindor is in the middle. On the left is Diane Ketcham, now retired from The New York Times. On the right is my wife, Marcia, to whom I say happy birthday today.)
Over the years we saw Lindor almost annually for quite awhile -- watching her get an NSNC humanitarian award one year, seeing her bring along her new love Neil one year, meeting her daughter one year.
Then a year ago she was diagnosed with brain cancer. It was devastating news, which she shared with her readers while announcing that she'd be gone awhile to fight the disease. We kept up on her battle via e-mail and Facebook. And my wife and I had dreams of getting up to Winnipeg. But we simply had too much stuff on our plate to arrange that trip.
Over this past weekend, Lindor wrote was will surely be her last column. If you cannot bear the pain of honest, searing words near the end of life, don't read it. But if you want to know how a terrific woman with deep (and deepening) Christian faith has stood against the enemy of vicious cancer, have a look.
Over the weekend here on the blog I wrote about a new book of funeral sermons and essays by my friend Russell E. Saltzman, a Lutheran pastor. I want to quote again something he wrote in Speaking of the Dead: When We All Fall Down:
". . .how does death serve God's purpose? The answer -- biblically and theologically -- is it does not. This is why God must promise to restore all that death claims. The promise of God is to destroy death, the final enemy of God's creation. There is the Good News. But it must be said so we can hear it in our lowest moments. It must be spoken at a funeral."
Am I angry about Lindor's cancer and the fact that she's facing the end of her life? Of course. Can I explain why it happened or make sense of why there is evil and suffering in the world? No. All theodicies ultimately fail.
What I can do is to tell you what a fabulous human being Lindor is and to urge you to honor and stay in touch with the fabulous human beings in your own life. And I can wish Lindor a smooth ride, one I wish to God she wasn't on.
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STILL GIVING IT ALL AT 90
Get this. One of the people arrested while protesting in Ferguson, Mo., is a 90-year-old Holocaust survivor. One more voice still speaks today because Hitler's death machine failed to murder her. Imagine that.
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P.S.: My latest National Catholic Reporter column now is online here.