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Ruth - She Lived Up To Her Name

She called the first time while I was away—in the days before cell phones, so she had to wait. We met face-to-face, in her office, the following week.

“I’m intrigued,” she said as we sat down. “Most people don’t say no to a job three times then come in for an interview.”

I had said NO—through others—to the job she wanted me to consider: Director of the Office of Women’s Concerns. It was a big title for a job of minuscule power.

I had heard of her — Ruth, Director of the Office of Student Services. That was another big title for a job little valued by its academic home. She was well liked by many different people across many constituencies. I didn’t know anything beyond her popularity.

I was not disposed toward “servicing” any one. She was living her name: "Wither thou goest I will go .... Thy people will be my people".

She was bright-eyed and round-faced, and smiled easily and often. She asked probing questions and offered politic commentary on her service work and staff.

“I don’t want the job," I said again after about 10 minutes, "but I pay attention whenever anything comes to me in threes.” I then recounted how three totally unconnected people each told me about one particular school within 48 hours of our knowing we needed a different one for our 5-year-old. “As soon as I walked on the campus I knew it was ‘ours’; and my husband—whose criteria were the exact opposite of mine—felt the same when he arrived.”

She smiled and nodded and made a note I couldn’t see. She asked, “If you were to take the job, what would you do with it?”

Tricky that, and I reminded her as I started that I was speaking merely hypothetically. "I’d undo the 'office' and the job." But not like our current president’s cabinet is undoing things, and, I believed in the mission of the office too much to let it stay what it had become.

She smiled and made another note. She began to talk to me about her work, and her vision for serving students—and the faculty who taught them. She spoke of the need to combine love of God and people and knowledge and wisdom for the purpose of growing wholeness in the lives of students--so that they could minister in and to wholeness when they left.

As we parted, I said again, “I’m not interested in your job. And, I am very interested in your mission.”

The next day she offered me the job.

I took it, and worked with her for eight years. We did undo (and redo) the office and the job, in a way and over time.

And, we became fast friends. In the language of middle school she became my “best” friend—maybe my "best friend ever!"

She died in 2010—unexpectedly and suddenly.

I miss her. I miss her smile and the twinkle of her blue eyes. I miss the politics and mission of her love.

The Yellow Dress

Second Sight