Rob McKnight was a tall, round-faced, mostly-bald man with a lilting Southern accent, a deep sensitivity, and an admirable assertiveness. I only had the privilege of having a couple of classes with him, but he was an incredible encouragement to me.
On the last day of my Liberation Theology class last spring, I was one of the last to speak about the topic of my final paper, which was Fat Liberation. I was reluctant to “come out” to my classmates as a fat activist. Hell, I was even reluctant to say the phrase “I am fat” out loud in a room full of 30 people. But I mustered up the courage to do it, in no small part to the fact that Rob was sitting next to me, looking at me encouragingly. As I spoke, he affirmed my words, even looking at me once with tears in his eyes as I spoke about my pain. Afterwards he hugged me tightly and encouraged me to “start that blog!” in his matter-of-fact and yet gentle way. And that would be this blog. Which exists partially because of Rob’s support.
I lived just blocks away from Rob’s apartment, and saw him occasionally at my husband’s church. He’d been sick, and was recently diagnosed with Addison’s Disease. But even so, I still felt like I had “plenty of time” to get to know Rob. Unfortunately, I didn’t have plenty of time, because he died unexpectedly. The Medical Examiner’s office still doesn’t know exactly what he died of, but he has passed on from this life into the Arms of Love.
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a town and spend a year there, doing business and making money.” Yet you do not even know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wishes, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil. –James 4:13-16, NRSV
We never know how life might change, and we must not take our future plans for granted. I missed the opportunity to get to know Rob in this life because I forgot the above passage from my favorite book in the Christian Scriptures. Lord, help me to remember it today.
For those in the Seattle area who knew Rob, there will be a chance to share memories and celebrate his life at the Recovery Café‘s new location, 2022 Boren Ave at 5:30pm on Sunday, February 7th.
Prayers for Rob’s friends and families would be appreciated.