I WAS WORKING on an issue of Preaching Today when the phone rang. "Pastor Ed?" asked the uncertain woman on the other end. I didn't recognize the voice. My mental Rolodex started spinning.
"This is Jean McGuire."
My mind was still blank. "From Arizona," she continued.
My mind stopped spinning just in time: Jean was a faithful attendee of our last church but so shy and reclusive that I never got more than a whispered hello and a downward glance when I greeted her on Sunday mornings. What could have motivated this timid creature to make a long-distance call to a former pastor she hadn't seen in more than two years?
"Well, hello, Jean. What a surprise! It's good to hear from you."
"I'm sorry to bother you. Maybe I shouldn't have called, but … well, I'm calling about Roy."
Roy was her forty-something, never married son. He was a huge man, intimidating in both size and stoicism.
"How's my old buddy Roy doing?"
She blurted, "He died last month."
"What? He died? Roy? What happened?"1