Friday, April 8, 2011
Like the last two notes of Pachelbel's ''Canon," Nancy today stepped off the edge of the world into eternity.
We in EEWC had been tiptoeing through this sacred week as she slowly but gracefully walked toward standing only a breath away from that fuller presence of God.
She died in Atlanta as one of her close friends held her hand. I last saw her in Indianapolis at the EEWC gathering there in June, 2010. She knew then that it would be her last conference--the pancreatic cancer discovered and treated a year earlier had somehow metastasized--but she did not tell us, except for Letha. I saw only a luminous presence, an extra warmth and graciousness.
Nancy's reflections on this final journey appeared in Christian Feminism Today: "Some Thoughts on Living and Dying" (vol. 34, winter 2011) and can be found on the EEWC-CFT website, www.eewc.com.
We got the call just after noon today as Letha and I returned from walking to brunch at a nearby bakery. We prayed and gave thanks for Nancy's life. The rest of the day went to phone calls and emails with our families and the EEWC community.
Nancy and Letha came into contact in 1968 when Letha wrote a piece on women for Eternity magazine. The story of how they came to write All We're Meant To Be: A Biblical Approach to Women's Liberation (Word Press, 1974) is found in Letha's blog, http://www.lethadawsonscanzoni.com/2011/01/part-1-coauthoring-all-were-meant-to-be-the-beginning/
I wrote to them when their book came out and at their invitation did something I had never done before: fly across the country for a conference.
At that meeting of Evangelicals for Social Action in Chicago, women who were present met and shared and decided to meet again, inviting others. The group grew into an organization. Excitement, joy, hope for change--I was swept into it.
Since that day in November, 1974, so much has happened: getting the structure for a national organization, founding local chapters, holding biennial conferences, facing shoestring budgets, starting a quarterly publication and later a website.
Nancy attended every conference, starting with our first in 1975. She took part in the initial planning committee of five people and served many terms on EEWC's Council over the years, currently as secretary.
I looked through my autograph album last week and was moved by words she wrote many years ago, taken from calligraphy by Sr. Corita Kent with the words of Ugo Betti:
To believe in God is to know that all the rules will be fair and that there will be wonderful surprises.
She's joyful now, laughing with surprise at wonders beyond our imagining.