It’s been several months since Geraldine Willcuts died, but she’s still resting on my mind. I have before me one of her watercolor cards in a frame—a mountain stream cascading through autumn trees, interspersed with evergreen. It captures some of Geraldine’s lively, creative spirit.
When I think of her impact on my life, I have to open my memories to include Jack. In my earlier years, as a newcomer to the yearly meeting and a fledgling missionary, it was Jack Willcuts who told me I was a good writer. And it was Jack as editor of the Evangelical Friend magazine who actually gave me a monthly column and encouraged me to take seriously my vocation as a writer.
On furloughs home from Bolivia, Jack and Geraldine as a couple befriended and mentored us.
Sometime at the end of the 1990s, my home church, North Valley Friends, sent my name to the yearly meeting as a candidate for recording. When the recording committee informed me that my official mentor for the process would be Geraldine Willcuts, I was thrilled. Geraldine took her role seriously (and with a lot of humor). Whenever I was home from overseas, we met frequently over cups of tea and great conversation. I loved her earthy common-sense spirituality. We talked about what it means to be wife, mother, and minister of the gospel at the same time; how to nurture creativity in the busyness of life (she the artist, me the poet); how to walk lightly over the planet; how to support our leader-type husbands while being true to our own callings; how to identify our callings—all sorts of good stuff.
During yearly meeting sessions, 2001, I stood on stage with the other recording candidates. Geraldine stood at my side and presented me with a certificate and a new Bible, the one I still use. On the inside cover she had inscribed 1 Corinthians 2:13: “So then we do not speak or write in words taught by human wisdom, but in words taught by the Spirit, as we explain spiritual truths to those who have the Spirit.” She added her own thoughts on our time together and ended with a blessing: “God bless your words, written, spoken, and thought; God bless your students; these are all ‘bread cast upon the waters that will not return void.’”
I hold that blessing today. Thank you, Geraldine Willcuts, mentor and friend.