Dear Calvin Miller,
I hope it’s okay to call you Calvin. Reverend Miller is a bit formal. You don’t know me, but I know you, and you have had something to do with my life.
I just finished reading your Letters to Heaven: Reaching Beyond the Great Divide. I have to admit, with a subtitle like that, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. But over the years I've read The Singer Trilogy, Letters to a Young Pastor, the Philippian Fragment and quite a few others of your books, and I figured that this book would be something other than what the subtitle suggested. And I was right.
Each of the 26, you say, touched you in a significant way, had an influence upon you, or made your life different and often better. Like the experiences of life itself, not all of these people and the people associated with them were positive, but all were important. Some you knew, and knew well; some you never met.
Calvin, I found myself strangely moved, and moved often, as I read your book. I understood the book and the reason for it better than I anticipated. You’re writing in the full winter of your life; I’m beginning to feel the first touches of frost. You’re leaving a kind of testimony, because it’s important to name the people who made a difference in our lives. Especially in the winter.
I have to confess something. While I liked them all, two letters stood out for me. One was to Dickey, your brother, the brother who drowned when you were not yet four years old. I cried with that letter, Calvin. I haven’t had that kind of loss, but you made me experience yours.
The second letter was the one to Oscar Wilde. I was surprised when I saw it listed in the table of contents. But not when I read it. You grasped his tortured soul; you understood how the cage of prison ultimately destroyed him. And you recognized “The Ballad of Reading Gaol” for exactly what it is, one of the finest poems in the English language. I cried when I read that letter, and I read it four times.
We may never meet this side of heaven, Calvin, but I hope we will on the other side. If such things are allowed, I’d like to talk with you about The Singer Trilogy, I’d like to play ball with you and Dickey, and I’d like to sit next to you as we read “The Ballad of Reading Gaol” together. And for all we know, perhaps Oscar will be there to read it with us.
Your Reader Friend