Front page of the local section, The News & Advance, Lynchburg, VA, October 12, 2008

Dr. Lynda Woodruff, my mentor and friend, died last week. Hearing this awful news, I registered both gut-punched grief and that my first question—Did she die because she’d received inadequate healthcare?—came to me only because I’d been schooled by Lynda.

A woman of “grit and salt” (her words), Lynda schooled so many! My first tutorial with this fierce, brilliant woman happened after I’d mailed her a draft of a book manuscript which, eventually, with her guidance, became Way Opens. “Context!” she’d written in bold letters on that first, pathetic draft. Meaning: You neither know the backstory nor understand its implications. Meaning: You’re a clueless white woman. Meaning: Do your homework.

So I began. And, with Spirit’s guidance, keep on keeping’ on. (Although I already know I’ll earn a C+ at best. )

Something else I note with deep sorrow. “The burden of the race” resting on her shoulders since she was thirteen, over the years Lynda “just got tired.” (Her words.)  Can you imagine how exhausting, how debilitating our current political nightmare must have been for her?

Rest in peace, dear Lynda.



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  1. Dear Patricia,

    Well, hello, there, Patricia, and greetings and salutations to you and to you AND FOR VERY ESPECIALLY FOR YOU FOR ALWAYS my awesomely precious and dearly special soul sistahfriend Christian Quaker woman who you’re FOR ALWAYS so, so very much AND A HAPPY NICE SPECIAL BLESSED HOLY WEEK WITH HOLY MAUNDY PASSION THURSDAY, GOOD FRIDAY, AND A HAPPY EASTER FOR YOU AND FOR YOU AND FOR VERY ESPECIALLY FOR YOU AND YOURS like with your beloved husband, your so, so very dearest Loved One in the long-term care facility, for your awesome children, for your precious grandchildren, for your amazing siblings and all of the rest of your incredible family, for you so, so very cool in spirit and Spirit yoga friends, for all of your other great friends, for your loving, good neighbors, and for your blessedly holy, pure in heart, and special friendsfamily at your awesome Friends Meeting at Cambridge, sistah!!!!!!! 🙂 <3 Oh, my so, so very dearest and darling, sweet sistahfriend, Patricia, Oh, no, Oh, my gosh, Oh, my God, sistahfriend!!!!!!! I'm so, so very saddened and heartbroken to learn that our amazing and remarkable Dr. Lynda Woodrjff has died!!!!!!! I just know that she is at Perfect Peace and Bliss in our Heaven having graduated to our Heaven, sistah, Patricia!!!!! What a so very dear woman she was in her marvelous life, so strong, so brave, so dedicated, so absolutely OUTSTANDING, my so, so very dearest and daring friend, Patricia!!!!!! What an indomitable, courageous, groundbreaking pioneer our awesome Dr. Lynda Woodruff was in her brilliantly and full-led life and so is our astounding The Rev. Dr. Owen C. Carwell, Jr., too, sistahfriend!!!! How brave they were as strong kids in the early teens so beautifully integrating your wonderful highschool on that very special day on January 29, 1962!!!!! WOW!!!!! I deeply admire these two absolutely spectacular people and the permanent legacy which they have so lovingly and tenderly given to each and every one of us integrating your very fine and excellent high school, Patricia, in that southern state back then that had racism alive and well with all of the oppression and discriminatory features which go along with all of that!!!! WOW!!!!!! They both are just absolutely FANTASTIC and I so, so very much deeply admire them!!!! Their story reminds me of my story as well. When I was five in kindergarten in early November 1967 my family and I moved to the then majority white suburb of Cleveland called Cleveland Heights, Ohio. My family and I were a major part of integrating the community, city and suburb, neighborhood, schools, and church in my so, so very beloved Cleveland Heights, Ohio at that time. WOW!!!!! I just so, so very much love and cherish my so, so very precious and special Cleveland Heights, Ohio, sister!!!!!! 🙂 <3 Sisterfriend just love your brilliantly honest book called, Way Opens, and, in fact, I've been re-reading it because it is such a beautiful read of your so, so very dear, engaging, and endearing awakening, Patricia!!!!!! 🙂 <3 Sistahfriend, WOW, AWWWWW, my so, so very sweet, so, so very right on, wondrously wonderful soul sistahfriend Christian Quaker white woman, Patricia, WOW, I just so, so very much appreciate YOU and so honor you and all of your great, diligently conscientious efforts as YOU just try so, so very hard with such a deeply sincere, special and beautiful heart and spirit with your poignant awakening in your learning, healing, and growing as a very dedicate white anti-racist woman and ally toward gaining even more anti-racist racial awareness, sistahfriend!!!!!! 🙂 <3 Sistah, I so appreciate YOU and honor YOU and all of your very devoted, strong efforts and I want YOU to be gentle with yourself as such a wonderful white woman because this journey is a very gradual, imperfect lifetime's journey and process and as I quote from very, very many of my multiple 12-Step Programs which I'm such a rejoicing and proud member of, "Progress, not perfection," is the very key here and I just know how hard you are trying as ever as always and I just so, so very much love and cherish YOU, Patricia, and all of your very steadfast, courageous effort, and I just so, so very much appreciate YOU and honor YOU for all that you do trying so, so very hard doing your absolutely very best, sisterfriend!!!!!!!!! 🙂 <3 YOU just as you say with such acute and astute sagacity, "And, with Spirit's guidance, keep on keeping' on." YOU can only do your best, sistah and friend of mine, Patricia, and FOR ME this black woman doesn't think you're a "clueless white woman" and I think you definitely merit and deserve much higher than a C+. This very gradual, imperfect lifetime's process, path, and journey DOES very much indeed take time, my dear, dearest, precious, Patricia!!!!!! 🙂 <3 I have all of the very time and all of the very patience in the world to very delightfully and eagerly, joyfully work with you, my so, so very dearest and darling, Patricia, and with other so, so very special and precious white women and with all of you as my superb white sistahs and brothahs and I can meet you all right where you're at with such patience with all of the very time and all of the very patience in the world working with each and every one of you as Spirit's so, so very precious children meeting each and every one of you right where you are all at EVEN when there are problems, issues, and concerns for I am in this in the long haul through thick and thin and I'm very committed to this very process and I'll never ever give up on YOU, Patricia, and not on other fabulous white persons having such complete love for and confidence, trust, faith, hope, and belief in each and every one of you as such awesome white people, very, very especially YOU, sistahfriend, and other so, so very right on, wondrously wonderful white women and I'm here for each and every one of your very delightfully and eagerly rooting for you all and cheering all of you on!!!!! YOU ALL can for sure count on me and count on that, sisterfriend Patricia!!!!!!! 🙂 <3

    Sistahfriend, I thank-YOU and Spirit continually FOR YOU AND FOR YOUR VERY PRESENCE IN MY VERY LIFE!!!!! WOW!!!!! YAY for YOU, Patricia!!!!!! WOW!!!!!! YAY!!!!!! YAY YAY YAY YAY!!!!!!! YAY for our very sistahhood and friendship, Patricia!!!!!! WOW!!!!! YAY!!!!!! YAY YAY YAY YAY!!!!!!!! 🙂 <3 Sister, YOU are my very life's' and eternal blessings AND YOU ARE SUCH A SHEER AND JOYOUS BLESSING, PATRICIA!!!!!!! 🙂 <3 Please have such a totally terrific and a very thrilling Tuesday, such a wondrously wonderful rest of your Holy Week and Happy Easter with your wondrously wonderful weekend ahead, AND FOR EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU, and may all of your very days be so, so very especially blessed!!!!!! 🙂 <3 Spirit so, so very much loves and cherishes YOU, sisterfriend, AND SO DO I A WHOLE LOT AND A WHOLE BUNCH, TOO, PATRICIA!!!!!!! 🙂 <3

    Very Warmly and Sincerely FOR ALWAYS my awesomely special and dearly precious FOR ALWAYS soul sistahfriend Christian Quaker white woman who YOU'RE FOR ALWAYS SO, SO VERY MUCH, PATRICIA, sisterfriend of mine, with My and Spirit's VERY PEACE AND LOVE FOR YOU FOR ALWAYS, sister of mine, AND WITH SUCH BLESSINGS AND SUCH VERY EVEN MORE BLESSINGS FOR YOU FOR ALWAYS, friend of mine, 🙂 <3

    YOURS FOR ALWAYS soul sistahfriend Christian black woman AND FOR ALWAYS in the very great spirit of unity and solidarity, Sherry Gordon in Iowa City, Iowa 🙂 <3

  2. AWWWWWWW, I meant to say also that oh, how I just so love when you as usual as always once again feature and include such empowering links with this splendid blog post article and with very many of your other stupendous blog post articles as well!!!! I just so, so very much love these fantastic links here and what a beautiful article about our late great, Dr. Lynda Woodruff, sistah and friend of mine, Patricia!!!!!! 🙂 <3 What a perfect title for this masterful composition in the written word here, sistahfriend of mine, Patricia, which is very fitting and applicable to the very great themes and topics of this very fine and excellent blog post article here!!!! WOW, what a perfect, picture-perfect picture here with these very special people which perfectly adds to and complements your very brilliant writing here, my so, so very dearest and darling friend, Patricia!!!!!! 🙂 <3

  3. And along your very gradual and imperfect lifetime’s path, journey, and process, Patricia, and for other awesome white people it is perfectly okay, alright, normal, and natural to make mistakes, EVEN BAD RACIST MISTAKES, along your very understandably gradual and imperfect lifetime’s path, journey, and process. It is just like taking one step forward and two steps back being such a very understandably gradual and imperfect, lifetime’s path, journey, and process. WOW, my very heart and spirit aches that our so very dearest Dr. Lynda Woodruff felt tired from all that she faced, endured, and experienced!!!!!! What a brave woman she was in both heart and spirit!!!!! I just keep on keeping on in keeping my very faith and hope alive with my FOR ALWAYS sweetly abiding and enduring positive optimism, and I am FOR ALWAYS a Pollyanna, A BLACK POLLYANNA, my so, so very dearest sistah and friend of mine, Patricia!!!!!! There is FOR ALWAYS HOPE, sistah!!!!!!! 🙂 <3

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