Gloria writes her own letter to heaven, to author Calvin Miller (1936 - 2012) ...
Ten years ago when we started Homecoming Magazine, your book Jesus Loves Me was the first book I chose to review. Bill and I were already admirers of your writing and often said that there are few great literary writers in the Christian community and that you were one of them. The book we featured in that first issue said that if we would basically go through this life with our empty bowl and make no demands except to ask God to fill our bowl each day with enough to keep us going while we gave Him our lives wherever He put us, our lives would be full — and so would our bowl. I never forgot that.
Many books have come from your pen since I first discovered you and your now classic Singer Trilogy when I was fresh out of college and newly married. You have encouraged believers everywhere to dig deeper, live fuller, push our boundaries wider and walk freer. Now you are gone, but your wisdom and insights are certainly not.
How fitting that your last book should be called Letters To Heaven, written to people who preceded you in death, people to whom you wanted to tell something but never got the chance. Some of these people impacted my life too, like Madeleine L’Engle and C.S. Lewis. Some were “unknown” by this world’s standards, but giants in your life, like the brave girl in the iron lung who taught you that polio (or any other disease) should not define a person, and kind, positive John Smithson who kept a sweet attitude even though he lived with a very harsh and negative wife.
I thought about the long parade of people in my life who have all taught me something, even if it was how not to live. To them, too, I have to be grateful. But, Calvin, you were one person who helped to confirm my faith, encouraged me to be creative and never settle for mediocrity, and to dare to make a difference right where I am. You were solid without being hard-edged and narrow. Your writings gave me the courage to shove out a few boundaries and let a lot more people go to heaven. (Like I had anything to say about how many God welcomed home!)
In this, the 10th Anniversary Issue, you have inspired some of us artists to write a few “letters to heaven” of our own. I hope you are getting to say the things that only a few months ago you were “theoretically” writing to heaven, because now you are there yourself and you have all the time (though time doesn’t even exist there to restrict you) you want to say what didn’t get said here. I’d sure like to sit in on some of those conversations — especially the one with Johnny Cash!