He was a fixture on Sunday mornings for over two years. From my perch beside the front steps of our historic church, I would see him arriving on his bicycle as I greeted folks streaming out of the early service. And then a bit later, after completing my preparations for the 10:00am service, our paths would invariably cross as he exited the Parish Hall with coffee and snack in hand to make his way to the bluff. There he would sit to gaze at the May River while completing his morning repast. By 9:30am he would have taken his customary place in the nave: last row, Gospel side, center aisle seat. It's there I first met him and last saw him. Kevin was devoid of pretense.
It was the longest time before he gave me more than a smile in response to my pre-service greetings and even longer before he shared his name . . . he preferred his contemplative routine: kneeling for prayer, thoroughly reviewing the bulletin with special attention to the Scriptures for the day, time spent reading in the early chapters of Luke's Gospel, and more time on his knees in prayer. Kevin's presence was purposeful.
By virtue of his choice of seats, he was always among the last to kneel at the altar rail to receive the Sacrament. That he only received the Host, and did so by having me place the wafer on his tongue, told me his faith was most likely deeply rooted in the Roman Catholic tradition; genuflecting and his use of the holy water font before and after worship were further hints as to his past . . . a past that had shaped him in many ways: some positive, as in his deep sense of reverence; and some negative, after all he was riding a bicycle. He had obviously moved beyond the religious trappings that tend to divide us, opting for the only source of unity available to mankind: Jesus Christ. Kevin's humility was palpable.
Over time, while bidding adieu to those early worshipers, I began to look for the little flag flying atop the five-foot fiber glass antenna affixed to the bicycle's frame . . . it signaled his approach long before the plaid tam protecting his expanding bald spot was visible. And like the postmen of old, weather did not deter his Sunday sojourn to the foot of Calhoun Street - a yellow slicker was kept at the ready in a little pouch hanging from the rear fender adjacent to the water bottle holder. Kevin was unencumbered by this world's trappings.
Though his family dynamics are unclear to me, I suspect he was close to his mother as a child; and it was she who prompted his attraction to Luke's Gospel. I believe he longed for the intimacy Jesus knew on that holy night in Bethlehem and for the peace the angels trumpeted . . . I believe, too, that his prayer has now been answered. Kevin died last week; he and his bicycle were found in a ditch, the victims of a hit-and-run driver.
Into your hands, O merciful Savior, we commend your servant Kevin. Acknowledge we humbly beseech you, a sheep of your own fold, a lamb of your own flock, a sinner of your own redeeming. Receive him into the arms of your mercy, into the blessed rest of everlasting peace, and into the glorious company of the saints in light. Amen.