Remembering a Saint: Keith Hill
My more liturgically-minded readers will know that today is All Saint’s Day (probably celebrated tomorrow in many churches). It might mean slightly different things to different people and different traditions, but the general idea is to celebrate the lives of the saints (to Protestants, that’s all Christians) who have passed away.
Eight days ago my wife and I made the trip to my hometown to remember the life of one such saint: Keith Hill. The funeral home was overflowing with people. We arrived only about 5 minutes after the visitation started – scheduled for an hour but took closer to two – and barely managed to get seats. He was very loved not only in the small church where I grew up, but in many segments of the community.
As I am, he was an introvert. He wasn’t going to blow you away with flashy shows of his faith. He didn’t sermonize or lecture, rarely having interest in big theological discussions. But it was clear to everyone who met him how much he loved Jesus and lived his life in line with that love. That was a major theme that emerged as people reflected out loud on his life, as well as when I reflected quietly.
I only have vague memories of specifics, but I knew he was always there for our family, especially in the years when my mom was raising us on her own. He and his wife were quick to help with food, with physical labour around the house, with babysitting us, and always with a big smile and a quick laugh. There is probably so much more that I can’t remember. When I heard that death would be coming soon, I told Emily that I would like to go to the funeral if there was any way we could. There was no question for me, even with it meaning using up a vacation day and renting a car. I immediately thought of him like an extra grandpa or uncle, even though I couldn’t name many specific memories. That was just who he was (and his wife is): not drawing unnecessary attention to their actions, just doing them because it was the good and loving and Jesus-like thing to do.
He was the kind of man I hope to be, embodying Jesus to the world and making it a better place one little action at a time.
Goodbye Keith, until we meet again.