03 May 2009

In Memoriam, Michael E Miller, Oblate OSB Camaldolese

Occasionally, by the grace of God, we meet people who are genuine Christians and even mystics. They have suffered with all the foibles and sometimes the illnesses that afflict us human beings routinely, and are very clear that God in Christ has transformed them and their lives. They still have those illnesses and yet joyfully live a full, whole, and holy life in Christ because they have learned the truth of Paul's affirmation about God, "My grace is sufficient for you; my power is made perfect in weakness." They live lives of deep and abiding prayer, becoming God's own prayers in this world, and in everything they are and do they manifest the hope that the Church proclaims as our heritage as adopted Sons and Daughters during this Easter season especially.

Michael Miller was such a man. Michael was a Camaldolese Oblate and I met him several years ago at Incarnation Monastery before I had affiliated with Transfiguration. Since he lived in San Francisco, and I in a hermitage across the Bay, occasionally we would meet for coffee and conversation in Border's bookstore in SF. Other times we would see each other at Incarnation for Office, Mass, or quiet days, and I particularly remember one dinner we celebrated as we, another couple of Oblates and the Monks from Incarnation went out to mark the Feast of St Romuald. Michael and I shared a common interest in things Camaldolese and Benedictine, spirituality more generally, and more particularly the notion of a vocation to chronic illness. He had struggled with alcoholism in his youth, with AIDS the rest of his life, and, since I have known him, with respiratory problems compromising some of his abilities.

He was known for his gentleness, his deep wisdom, and his abiding compassion and lack of judgmentalism. He was also known for his wonderful sense of humor and capacity for conversation. He was a talker (!!) --- but with a great capacity for listening! It was with sadness that I learned of his death this last Wednesday. He was a friend, and I will miss him though I believe that he is present still watching over our Camaldolese interests and concerns. I know too that he read this blog, so it is an honor to remember him here. I know he would have laughed to see an article about himself here --- and he had a truly wonderful laugh.

For those in the SF area, especially Oblates, Michael's funeral will be at 2:00pm at Holy Redeemer Church in San Francisco. The address is 100 Diamond St in the Castro (about a mile from the 16th/Mission BART station or just a couple of blocks from the Castro muni station). Visitation will be held starting at noon.