“That makes me want to be a better person,” my husband said as we drove away from Bob Lind’s memorial prayer service the evening of Aug. 8.
Even though my husband is a pretty awesome guy, too, I knew what he meant. Bob Lind was one of those rare people about which, when you hear they’ll be leaving soon, along with sadness, you feel peace, because you strongly sense they’re heading to where they’ve been aiming all this time: eternal life with God.
I’m not alone in my admiration of Bob Lind, I realize, and it’s not because of anything special he did, but because of who he was: humble, cheerful, optimistic, caring, and totally devoted to Christ.
It wasn’t until I stepped into my new role at The Forum newsroom in Dec. 2011 that we met in person. I’d come back as a reporter after a 15-year career gap filled with mothering. Though the newsroom environment hadn’t changed, I had. In my years away from cranking out daily stories, my faith had grown. Newsrooms attract many wonderful, talented people, but they’re also known for naturally drawing cynics, and at times, I felt out of place.
Early on, Bob would stop by my desk to tell me, with sincerity, how much he enjoyed my work. I was a general features writer, but so many of my interviews ended up going in a spiritual direction, and I let them. If not for Bob, I might have paused, but his encouragement gave me confidence to let those soul-stories through in a world that often ignores or belittles them.
After leaving The Forum for a while, I returned, this time as a contributing writer focusing on religious topics. Soon, I began speaking more frankly about faith matters of importance, attracting ire on occasion. Bob always let me know he believed in me and was praying for me.
It was because of his attentiveness to people that Bob told such great stories. I was privileged to see this not just in his columns, but in person, especially when Bob reached out with an invitation one year, setting one of several “double dates” with my husband and me and him and his lovely wife, Marcie; the last happening this past March.
I was truly shocked to learn of his stroke just weeks later, and, more recently, his move to hospice. Hadn’t we just met at the Fryin’ Pan, where he was so lively and as interested in our lives as ever? He’d asked then if he could end our time in prayer, and right there in the restaurant, he praised God, boldly asking for blessings “in Jesus’ name.”
This, along with the interview I did with him for a May 2020 article, are the treasures I will keep tucked in my heart until we meet again. In the meantime, I’ll be watching for his signature twinkle of the eye in the faces of others, and opportunities to “be a better person,” just like Bob Lind.
[For the sake of having a repository for my newspaper columns and articles, I reprint them here, with permission, a week after their run date. The preceding ran in The Forum newspaper on Aug. 16, 2021.]