(Three years ago I wrote this blog to Calvin Miller, one of my favorite authors of all time. He has been on my mind this week, so I wanted to send this again.)
Another Day Along the Way
Thursday, August 23, 2012
We looked forward to your visit. Plans had been made months ago. You would come to north Georgia and spend time with us at Emmanuel College. You would preach and teach and let us ask you questions. We would learn from your spiritual journey, your years of ministry, your writing, your artwork, your life.
I had planned to take you to lunch or dinner (or, my preference: both lunch and dinner) at BarH. I wanted you to see the place I invite readers as I highlight you and other authors in my book Pause. In fact, I planned to give you a copy of the book and thank you again for your endorsement. You were the first to write about my new book. I was, and am, humbled and honored by your words.
Speaking of words, I had enjoyed and learned from your words for so many years. I hoped our students could also enjoy and learn. Your words spoken and written do that. As we planned for you to stand in the Swails Center and Taylor Auditorium, we knew your words would dare us to ask and think and believe. We knew you would be honest.
I wanted our students to be influence by you as I have been. Through my years of pastoring and writing and living, your words inspired me and challenged me. Your words I heard through sermons; your words I read through books and articles and personal email.
Each of your books invited me to a unique world. The Singer Trilogy was my first experience with the wonder of your stories. Your poetic guiding allowed me fresh visits with the Gospel, Acts, and the Revelation. I engaged in new dimensions of life in so many of your lines and paragraphs and stories and books: The Celtic Path of Prayer, Into the Depths, The Philippian Fragment, Loving God Up Close, Preaching The Art of Narrative Exposition, The Unfinished Soul, Letters to a Young Pastor, An Owner’s Manual for the Unfinished Soul.
But, in ways very deep and unexplainable, your memoir met me in unexpected ways: Life is Mostly Edges – A Memoir. It helped me identify some of my edges. I relived my years of pastoring; I become aware again of my disability; I thought again of a future. And speaking of that future, I’m now reading and tweeting words from Letters to Heaven.
Going back to the books where I first experienced your stories, your words are in my family. Anthem, our first grandson, was given his name because of a character in your Singer Trilogy. Brittany, our daughter-in-law, explains the reason: “I just loved how he used words like that to describe his characters throughout that series. Anthem was such a fitting and powerful name to me for that character – being set free from literal chains, and society’s thoughts about him, by Jesus.”
The many times we wrote, the few times we met in person you were always so kind, so much like the Singer.
I have mentioned you and quoted you often. Why? Your words spoke to me. Yes, I loved your style. But your stories visited me. They then carried me into their world and let me learn there.
Well, my students at Emmanuel will not have the honor of seeing you in person this year. But, I’ll tell them of you. I’ll remind them of your stories. And, I’ll probably take some alone time to walk by the retreat house where you would have been staying and image the retreat house which took its place.
I look forward to my future visit in your new home.
Along the way,
Powerful Statement: We are all fellow travelers on the way to the world where you already are, and we all need a little help along our own private yellow-brick road to glory. (Calvin Miller: Letters to Heaven)