Del Camacho

For the past two years, Del Camacho was our church’s custodian. I’m convinced that if ever Jesus has passed quietly through my life and spoken with me, it was through Del.

More often than I’d like, I find myself working late hours at the church — it’s just about the only time things are quiet enough to get any work done. Del felt the same way, so we often shared the building in silence, he going about his work, and I mine.

But every now and then Del would poke his head in my office door to ask about something, or to empty my trash can. One friendly comment would lead to another, and we’d wind up on some deep philosophical or religious tangent. I suspect that early on, Del tried to talk to me about sports a few times and, realizing my ignorance on that subject, quickly discovered theology to be a more mutual interest we could share. He would ask me what I thought about this bible verse, or that church, or this doctrine, and listen politely as I fumbled my way through some overly complicated explanation or creed. Then he would say something short, simple, and more profound than any preacher, writer, or theologian I’ve ever encountered. Often his answer was something along the lines of, “You know, I just try to love people.” And the smile that followed let you know that you were included in that statement.

Del passed away last week. I attended his memorial service this morning, sharing a building packed with people from every class, race, and walk of life. We listened to his son describe Del as a man who would give his last dollar to a complete stranger who needed help. His daughter spoke of a man with boundless optimism who would tell people, “I can’t wait until tomorrow,” and when asked why would quip, “Because I keep getting better looking every day!” There were laughter and tears in the eyes of police officers, construction workers, and city councilmen alike today. And mine, too.

As I sit here in my office now, I keep waiting for him to poke his head in the door to talk, but knowing all the while that the brief time I shared with this incredible man has come to an end, as all things do, eventually. This passage from Matthew keeps coming to my mind today:

“But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave — just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

Most of us read something like this and ponder over it. Del lived it. When Jesus pokes his head in the door, most of us never notice, or if we do it’s after the fact. Still, I’m glad that he does. And Del will be missed by all.

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