By Kate Robertson, National Alumni Board
What an honor it has been to gather together all the beautiful thoughts and feelings that have been shared by fellow National Alumni Board members about our loved Linda Appleby, who most recently served as President. Linda passed on earlier this month, and this week it will be our privilege to witness the birth of the reunion that she has so tirelessly midwifed.
As I’ve listened for guidance in how to best approach this too-brief tribute to Linda’s love for Adventure Unlimited, it has been clear that the hymn selection (324, third verse) from this year’s A/U Ranches metaphysical theme says it all:
Take my every thought, to use
In the way that Thou shalt choose.
Take my love; O Lord, I pour
At Thy feet its treasure store.
I am Thine, and I will be
Ever, only, all for Thee.
A fellow alumni board colleague began her note, “Linda lived her prayers.” Yes, she did. She lived her prayers, her joy, her love for Adventure Unlimited – and for each of us. Linda loved. Linda smiled with her whole being. Linda played hard, listened deeply, gave generously and was recklessly, unwaveringly, uncompromisingly kind.
More than a few alumni board members have shared that Linda’s love for God was palpable. She wore her spiritual heart on her sleeve. It overflowed in her deep love for her husband, Don, and for her children, Jessica, Mike and Mike’s wife, Allison. It was a living love that blessed her church community, the A/U Ranches family, the community organizations that she served so selflessly, and the neighbors and friends she touched with her kindness and grace.
And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention her love for horses – especially Smokey. Summer after summer Linda would return for a week-long tryst with her beloved. Don came along – and sometimes Jessica, Mike and Allison – but it was Smoky who got her whole heart during those blessed days of dust and boots, worn leather, pole bending, cattle-working, sitting deep in the saddle and sunshine on her shoulders.
One friend shared that “when Linda rode she was fearless and seized every opportunity to challenge herself. She rode with passion and zest and was always willing to help in the corral with whatever was needed. She had a great healing a couple of years ago. She came off of Smokey as they were coming up out of the lake, while she and her fellow cowboy/cowgirl ‘campers’ were swimming their horses. She never expressed anything but complete confidence in the healing and continued to ride.” Linda loved the feel of Smokey’s mane between her fingers, the wind in her hair and loping through “the lower 280” on a sunny Colorado day.
As President of our alumni board, she brought qualities of servant leadership that humbled us all. She valued what each member brought to the table, prayed unceasingly, delighted in every triumph over resistance, and was enthusiastic about every opportunity to prove that God was in control – in all things, at all times, without question.
As a mother and wife, her joy was unbounded. She and Don were great partners and their shared love for their children, their community and their life together was an inspiration to us all. She touched countless lives with her humor, her childlike wonder, her generosity and her grace. My own daughters recall how she never failed to show a genuine interest in their lives. They were not alone.
As I read through all of these beautiful notes about Linda, it is clear that – like the wind we do not see, but which we observe in the way that it moves the leaves in an aspen grove or lifts the eagle on its thermals – Linda, too, continues to move our hearts and lift our expectations about generosity, joy and grace through her example.
In an article titled, “There is No Death,” from The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, Mary Baker Eddy, in speaking of a student who had passed earlier in the year, shares:
“My beloved Edward A. Kimball, whose clear, correct teaching of Christian Science has been and is an inspiration to the whole field, is here now as veritably as when he visited me a year ago. If we would awaken to this recognition, we should see him here and realize that he never died; thus demonstrating the fundamental truth of Christian Science.”
This “fundamental truth of Christian Science” is so evident in the ongoing way that Linda’s life of exuberant love, joy and grace continues to touch our hearts and inspire our own lives of selfless service and unlimited adventure.