Several years ago, the publisher of Holy Curiosity invited me to a dinner. It was a large gala held at the Georgia Aquarium. The location was stunning, with a twenty-foot high glass wall separating us from the massive tank where sharks circled ominously, an appropriate image for some of us trying to find our way through the world of books and booksellers and marketing plans and dismal sales numbers.
I knew almost no one and had no entourage. I was low on the totem pole. I wandered alone around the hall, not in the mood to push my way into any conversations. Then I spotted Calvin Miller standing near the sharks. White hair, three-piece blue and white seersucker suit. He was classically distinguished, the old-world gentleman with a colored hanky in his jacket’s front pocket. Calvin was an elder Atticus Finch.
I’d never met Calvin, but I recognized him immediately. I’ve always loved that Calvin and Eugene Peterson look like brothers. They are, in many ways, cut from the same cloth. Calvin is a pastor in the old, true sense. Calvin writes with imagination. Calvin creates space for others. Calvin speaks of God in ways that make you want to sit down quietly over in the corner and listen.
I walked over to the shark tank and introduced myself. Calvin greeted me as though I were an old family member he hadn’t seen in ages. We chatted for a while, and Calvin was never rushed. He wasn’t hurried, glancing off to the next person he should gladhand. Calvin’s easy way said, I’ve got nowhere to be. Want to grab an RC Cola? This legendary author could have spoken to anyone in the room, but he spoke to me.
Calvin died on Sunday. I will miss him.