Many years ago Tracy Reynolds talked to me with kindness when I spoke at Emmanuel College as a guest. I appreciated his words of encouragement.

The other times I traveled from Orlando to speak, he was always like a friend to me. When I moved from Florida to stay, he become a true friend.

Many people these days do not speak to others. Tracy does. Many people these days do not find ways to make others feel welcomed, important, significant. Tracy does.

I’ve been thinking about our times, our years, our conversations. Coffee for Tracy. Blueberry muffins for me. Long walks and long talks for us, together, glancing at a sky, praying prayers, his turn, my turn, our turn, together, embracing grace.

We are very different. Tracy likes, loves, coffee. I’m not a coffee guy.

Tracy has hair on his head and a beard on his face. I don’t need hair.

Tracy is an amazing musician, playing and singing in ways that impress and entertain. Me? I also love music, but I make sure the mic is off when I’m singing.

Tracy loves the Georgia Dawgs and I love Tech. Tracy, sometimes, sympathizes with me about that.

We both love the Braves — a team from Atlanta in a sport, from what seems to be our former lives, called Major League Baseball.

Unlike baseball, where owners and players can’t get along, Tracy and I were brave enough to be dear friends and also work together. Our argument was and is, we work better when we work together.

Our giftings are similar in some ways but also very different. When we taught a class together we found it easy to select which of us would be teaching what topics. When we meet with potential students or youth pastors or parents to recruit for Emmanuel or with pastors or business leaders to find jobs for our graduates, we each have our areas of important questions to ask, of crucial comments to state, of inspiring stories to tell.

We communicate regularly with each other. I work best that way. Tracy knows it. If he doesn’t receive an early morning text from me, Tracy wonders if I’m okay.

We both love Jesus and we love people. Our students are important to us. We have those hearts in common.

I will miss Tracy. I’m thankful for him helping me work in my job and helping me live this life. Thankful for him being with me last summer after my father-in-law died, at Emory listening to the surgeon after Debbie’s surgery, and this year after my dad died.

Last summer at Emory as I recorded the surgeon’s comments and Tracy remembered those comments, we were there together. Geographically but also relationally. Like so many times. Together, Tracy helped me understand.

Tracy knows when I need silence and space and rest. He knows when I need serious conversations. He knows when I need music. He knows when I need help. He knows my honesty does not have a selfish motive. I am thankful to have worked for a man like that.

He helped us at Emmanuel by not only teaching and leading and playing music, but by displaying the love of Christ to us. I hope we continue living what we learned from Tracy.

I also hope Tracy and I will still text and talk. Maybe someday somewhere we will get to talk together and walk together and pray together on our way to his coffee and my blueberry muffin.

I will, and we will, miss Tracy Reynolds.

I’ll end with these words directly to Tracy, “I love you.”