in memoriam

On a group blog like this one, which is also focused on largely public issues, it’s hard to know whether there’s a place for rather more personal matters. But I’d like to pay brief tribute to a wonderful young woman named Anna Woodiwiss who died, altogether unexpectedly, a few days ago.

I have known Anna since she was a girl; even when she was in her early teens talking with her was like talking with an adult — and no, I don’t mean a child trying to act like an adult, but really an adult, or what an adult should be: a deeply thoughtful person, interested in ideas and at ease with them, enthusiastic and sweet-natured but also capable of gentle irony. Anna learned from her parents, Ashley and Mary, a model of the Christian life as service to others, service without self-glorification, and she followed that model all her brief adult life. She worked for a time with one of the most extraordinary men of our time, Canon Andrew White, the Vicar of Baghdad, when he was involved with Coventry Cathedral’s International Centre for Reconciliation ; and most recently she worked in Afghanistan for the Turquoise Mountain Foundation. It was in Afghanistan that she died, not, as one might have feared, in some act of partisan violence, but in a sudden fall from a horse.

Her family are people of deep faith, and in the largest sense they will be okay; but their grief is now, and will long be, deep. Anna was beloved above all by her parents and by her younger brothers and sisters; but also, as far as I can tell, by pretty much everyone who knew her. Anna, well done, good and faithful servant; rest in peace.