If I had to describe ANN STEWART with only one word? How about adventurer. For example, when I mentioned to one of her Christian Science students that I had an upcoming interview with Ann, her student said, "Well, she definitely encourages us to get in and swim rather than sit by the side of the pool and talk about it!"
That quality of really living—of grabbing life and taking it all in—rather than just thinking or hypothesizing about life's deepest questions informs just about everything Ann does. After graduating from DePauw University in Indiana with a B.A. in English and a minor in history, Ann took off on a six-week tour of Europe. But she turned that six weeks into a two-year "stay over," as she calls it, with her favorite aunt and uncle, who were then living in Geneva, Switzerland. Ann tells the story: "This was a very special aunt. As a young woman, she had been healed of severe asthma after a friend suggested she try Christian Science. When I was a toddler, I was diagnosed with spinal meningitis. I wasn't expected to live, and my mother sent a rather stark telegram to Aunt Edith: 'Ann dying, please help!' She did. She gave me Christian Science treatment, and I was healed overnight. I'm told that the doctor was so overcome with joy that he sat down in a chair and cried."
In Switzerland Ann discovered mountain hiking and skiing—both of which turned into lifelong pursuits. And the adventurer in her? She says, "While I was there, I climbed the Matterhorn, but told no one. Then, a few days later, I received a letter from my mother—'Do not climb the Matterhorn!' " Apparently, her mother knew her daughter's propensity to take on life's biggest mountains—even the real ones.