This past Tuesday afternoon, as I layed out my clothes for Matt Miller's visitation and funeral, I was surrounded by a pile of Sunday best and all I wanted was a SPAM t-shirt (thus insuing the search for a SPAM shirt that I have never owned but thought might appear). Have you ever seen anyone wear a SPAM shirt as proudly or talk so joyfully about SPAM as Matt Miller? I doubt it.
After having no such luck with my wished for wardrobe, I dressed in my black pants and jacket and headed out the door. On the way to the funeral home in Pelham, I reflected on my thoughts of Matt and how he registers pretty high on my "who I respect the most" list.
I have numberous memories of Matt from outings with friends, weddings, Chrysalis weekends and Summer Camp.
Matt was my "go to" guy. As I looked around the funeral home at the hundreds of poeple who had come to hug the family and the hundreds of poeple who came to the church to celebrate his life, I couldn't help but think about how he was the go to guy for so many people and for so many different reasons.
For me, Matt was the go to guy for Summer Camp and Chrysalis questions, ideas and feedback. Others spoke to him about collage, church, hunting, football, relationships and a million other things. With all these people talking and asking, he always kept up the friendship and never left out the needed advise and laughter. Matt never worried about time or what he needed to be doing. He focused on the here and now and whoever he was talking to or helping at the moment.
When I came on board at Sumatanga as the full time Summer Camp Director, Matt knew me and we shared plenty of stories and memories but he had no reason to put as much faith in me as he did. Matt believed in me, shared his belief with the other directors and did nothing but encourage me in a time when I could easily have been cut down or put out. Soon, he became the guy I called when I had any questions about Summer Camp. The curriculum, half of the hiring and my sanity all would have gone out the door for the 2009 camping season without Matt Miller (I suppose I owed him a bit of a salary for all he did).
Matt has been helping me diligently a few times a week to prepare for the 2010 summer and for the Young Adult Chrysalis I will be leading in March. I am missing his input and support desperately. I know that the Lord has blessed me with these opportunities and won't let down but it sure was nice to have an angel on earth to help consult and sooth amidst the madness of ministry.
I am reminded of Matt each time I walk into my office and each time I talk to a camp friend that we have shared a hug or a celebration with. I am honored to live and work at a place where Matt was so influential. I am honored to have known Matt and know that he called me friend.
Matt said I would always be Meagan Gray and forbid me to leave out my original last name off Facebook when I became a Lanier (he was a fan of Evan but didn't like to store changed names to his memory). Matt could jump and scream higher than anyone I've ever met while fencing. Matt loved to sit back at parties and take in everything that was going on while making a commentary to himself. Matt and I shared the unbelievable gift of sweating year round and without control. Matt loved to talk about Alabama football when I obviously wanted to focus on Auburn. Matt was never afraid to take on the hard to answer questions at Chrysalis and was never hesitant about sharing deep parts of himself while preaching and teaching. Matt cared deeply for his friends and accomplished more in 25 years than most people do in 80 simply due to his passion. Matt was the first to admit when someone had a better idea and the last to push his thoughts just for the sake of talking and being right. Matt believed passionately about the message of peace, love and grace (and inspired my facebook and twitter statuses that said the same on January 11th after a long phone call with him). Matt was and always will be an inspiration. Matt has challenged myself and anyone who knew him to be more caring, more passionate and more like Christ.
"I strive to live life different. When I die I want people to say that I had a positive impact on the lives of the people that I came into contact with because I was willing to do things, say things, and give things others only dreamed about, and I want to have have fun while I do it." - Matt Miller
have a look into Matt's life: www.umcmatt.com