Remembering Annie Rawlings

The word first came in a simple text from a friend. The precise words have already faded from memory, but their essence remains: “Annie Rawlings died.”

I could not believe it. I tried to deny it. I searched Facebook and other social media looking for something, anything, I don’t know what, to demonstrate that the news was false.

But it was not. Through electronic media and phone calls the confirmation arrived.

Annie Rawlings –
woman of deep faith,

Annie Rawlings –
maker of peace,
welcomer of new neighbors,
community member,
strategic thinker,
seeker of justice,
builder of coalitions,
pursuer of truth,
builder of bridges,

Annie Rawlings –
ally of those living in poverty,
feeder of the hungry,
challenger of the systems,
clother of the naked,
houser of the homeless,
community organizer,
interfaith advocate,
child of Cleveland,
New Yorker,
citizen of the world,
glocal disciple,

Annie Rawlings –
trusted friend,
valued colleague,

Annie Rawlings –
lover of life,
liver of life,

Annie Rawlings was dead.

Annie died, unexpectedly, on November 2 after snorkeling in Cancun, Mexico where she had gone on vacation.

Annie threw herself into life with a zest and a passion. She lived boldly, bravely, fully. Annie made the most of her life.

Now Annie is dead. The world seems a bit more empty, a tad colder. Annie is dead and with so many others, I grieve.

I grieve for the pain and heartache that her parents and family suffer – pain and heartache that I can only imagine. I grieve for the empty seat at the table, the empty chair in the office, the empty place in the circle. I grieve for a life that ended too soon. I grieve for what might have been.

Yet as I grieve, I give thanks.

I give thanks for Annie’s faith and love. I give thanks for Annie’s living and witness. I give thanks for the lives that God touched through Annie. I give thanks that her memory shines. I give thanks that, while no one will ever, ever replace Annie, others will step up, have already stepped up, to carry on the pursuit of justice and peace to which she gave her life.

I give thanks because even in the face of the sudden death of one so young and vital as Annie, there is love and there is grace and there is God. All will be well for Annie. All will be well for her parents, Chuck and Joan. All will be well for her family and her friends. It may not seem that way now. It may not seem that way any time soon, but all will be well. There will be tears and heartache and great struggle, but all will be well. Alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia.

If you have ever read my blog, you know my closing line is: See you along the Trail. Tonight, I am going to give the final word to Annie’s favorite singer. Bruce Springsteen expresses a similar sentiment when he writes;

Further on up the road
Further on up the road
Where the way is dark and the night is cold
One sunny mornin’ we’ll rise I know
And I’ll meet you further on up the road.


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