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  • Writer's pictureFirst Congregational Church Winter Park

Daily Meditation: "Being Charlie"

Friday, September 11, 2020


"You gave me room when I was in distress." - Psalm 4


In the course of your lifetime, who was it that did what Psalm 4 is talking about? Who gave you room when your life was in a bad place? Who was there for you?

I know the people who come to my mind’s eye when I think about that question. Perhaps the dearest to me was my 8th grade English teacher, Charles Topham. Charlie helped me through two family deaths the first year we had moved back East from South Dakota. It’s hard enough to be in a new school system; then when you lose your aunt and your Gramma in less than a year, it's a tough place to be. I was, most definitely, in distress.

Charlie helped get me through that distress, and countless others until his own passing two years ago from Alzheimer’s. He was my constant source of non-judgmental friendship, wisdom, patience, and compassion. I babysat his boys when they were little, I stayed with him and Mary when I traveled to Boston for grad school every week from Vermont, they came to our wedding, and he was part of my ordination service. He was, in many ways, a second father to me and one of the dearest friends I ever had. I have often wished he was still with us so I could lean on him through the challenges of parenting two boys as he did, and I really could have used his wisdom in the journey of my ministry this past year. Charlie gave me room to be afraid, uncertain, angry, flawed, in grief, and never once did I ever feel diminished, unaffirmed, or anything less than the person I am; “warts and all.” He had a gift for that, and I’m blessed that he shared it so freely with me for so many years. I miss him deeply. He gave me room.

I think the psalmist had a Charlie. If we’re lucky, each of us has a Charlie somewhere along the way. Likewise, there are countless moments when we can be a Charlie for someone who is their own distress and needs some room.

May we each, in our own way, be a Charlie for someone and be blessed enough to have at least one Charlie in our own life when we’re in distress and need some room to be that way.


Loving God, thank you for giving us room and being with us in our distress, and for the blessing of those who walk gently with us through those moments, as well. May we return the blessing.




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