We met you in a time of great difficulty. Somehow I think many people probably met you in times of difficulty. Yours was a job that could lead you to people during celebratory joy but also times of great mourning.
The first thing I noticed about you was the kindness that seemed to emanate from you. It had been a difficult year for our family. It wouldn’t be the last difficult year, either.
As we became members of your church, you welcomed us fully and involved us as though we had always been there. Two of my boys got to experience your teaching in confirmation classes. They loved your sense of humor and innate calm.
Sometimes I wondered if you knew how much you impacted those around you. There were so many Sundays I sat in the pew feeling like words you shared that week were just for me. Did you see the tears in my eyes that I tried so hard to hide? Our shameless spot in the two rows right in front of you helped the little guys pay attention, but it didn’t do much to hide my heart.
You were always ready for a laugh when we got the chance to catch up. You never failed to be entertained by children on Sunday morning. I never once saw you rushing them or hurrying them along. You had a way with them.
You were the very picture of a shepherd who was gentle and steady with his flock. You never made us feel like you were weary of steering us back in, no matter what nonsense we were into.
When you announced your retirement, I started thinking about writing you a letter. It was going to be a letter thanking you. In a time where I had almost forgotten it existed, you brought kindness back into my life and the life of my family. I know the Lord was reminding me it was out there and He was using you to do it. One of my biggest regrets is not getting that letter written in time for you to read it on this earth.
I guess I’ll just have to tell you when I see you in heaven one day.