Friday, July 10, 2009
Gifts from Three Lives
By Joy Wallace
I went camping over the July 4th weekend, spending four days relaxing, reading, reflecting, hiking through the woods, playing in a creek to keep cool, exploring, and sitting by a campfire. Overall, the days were full of peace and quiet.
When I returned home and checked my e-mail, I learned that three friends had died while I was gone. They each added to my life and their gifts will remain with me.
Lou Boston: Lou was an active member of the St. Andrew Parish community. He was passionate about social justice, especially issues related to race! He was very influential at St. Andrew in keeping the dialog about race relations open, vibrant and meaningful. I remember having a conversation one day with him over coffee, about relationships between African-American and white people, and typical ways of communicating with one another. His words had a profound effect on me, and I’ve never been the same. Lou’s wisdom encouraged me to be more vigilant about my interactions with people of color, and opened the door to many unusual, unlikely encounters because he inspired me with courage and openness. Lou died of cancer.
Sr. Mary Medved, SNJM: I met Sr. Mary at a National meeting of Jesuit Volunteer Corps staff members, when she was the director of JVC International, and I was the Development Coordinator for the Northwest. Mary was so grounded that her groundedness spilled out onto others. She too was passionate about making a difference in the world for the underserved, and was very deliberate about her work. Sr. Mary was also an example of compassion. She too was a victim of cancer … a very painful experience for her. However, even at her most painful times, she always wanted to hear about you; how were you; what was happening for you. She inspired me with how she could be so present, grounded and focus on whomever she was communicating with.
Bonnie Tinker: Bonnie was an extraordinary activist. When she saw something that needed to be done, she got it organized in order to fix it. She worked for years to increase equality and respect for the gay community. She founded “Love Makes a Family” as a vehicle for her extraordinary activism to support gay families, children and relationships. Bonnie died in a bicycle accident when a truck ran into her while she was attending a faith-based conference in Virginia. Her unexpected death at 61 was a shock and the community lost one of its strongest advocates. Bonnie inspired me with her commitment and constant willingness to work ceaselessly for her causes.
Lou, Sr. Mary and Bonnie … I miss them. Portland will miss them. They added so much to our world. From each I received the gift of friendship, the gift of attention, and the gift of listening. They each modeled a commitment to increasing social justice through active service. My life is enriched by having known them and I will forever carry the gifts they left with me.