When Cokie Roberts passed away on September 17, we lost one of the all-time greats. Not just one of the great reporters, writers, or mentors, or Catholics (although that’s all true); we lost a wonderful human being. Cokie was a rare soul of grace and generosity who embraced radical kindness in all she did. God’s love can be a specific thing: service, witness, truth, caretaking. And it was God’s love Cokie delivered.It came to her naturally. She delivered even to those of us who had a small, but lasting, glimpse of her in our lives. I only worked with Cokie for a few years, but it was enough to reinforce critical lessons: be gracious to all, laugh often, work hard, and do everything in service of that which calls you. During a period when I was having a particularly rough time, Cokie told me to get up from my desk and join her for lunch, making me feel seen and known at a moment when I had no idea how much I needed it. Over the last couple of decades, she was always there to answer an email or offer a quick word of encouragement. Multiply my tiny experience by a factor of, well, some giant number; Cokie did more than most with her 24 hours each day, fueled by that radical kindness, grace, and care. She was a wonder.
I know this is a Jesuit essay series, but Cokie and I are both children of the Sacred Heart (the RSCJ are among the very best mentors around in delivering God’s love), and so I bring that lens to this as well. Thinking of Cokie while considering this Sunday’s readings, Timothy’s letter especially strikes a chord:
Beloved, I remind you, to stir into flame
the gift of God that you have…
For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice
but rather of power and love and self-control.
We are given the gifts of power and love. Radical kindness rises up. Find those mentors in delivering God’s love, then go and do your part.
Devi Zinzuvadia is a member of St. Ignatius Parish, a Jesuit parish in San Francisco, where she serves on the parish council and the Solidarity Network @ SIP. She is active in the work of the Ignatian Solidarity Network, most recently serving on the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice steering committee and the planning committee for the Jesuit Parish Justice Summit. She is director of engagement at a community-based youth development nonprofit in the Western Addition, a historically marginalized and under-served part of San Francisco.