For Charlott

There was a moment on Wednesday morning when it felt like she was there. Or she should have been there because our conversation had turned in a direction that she would have offered one of her priceless one-liners. In that moment, I missed her.

I missed Charlott. I missed that group that began this thing that I have called Leisurely Lectionary that I continue to hold at the same time with the same name (despite the different church and the different time zone). The name is actually stolen from a church that I served in seminary. It’s what they called the young adult group called their study of sacred text. I liked the name. I took it to Maine where I was shocked and dismayed that there was no opportunity for biblical study already in their church life. So, I started one and called it Leisurely Lectionary. It still exists. I told the whole story in my last sermon before I began my journey to Washington — but let’s just say that it began with Charlott.

Today, I opened my mail to discover a card from another dear member of that church who sent me her obituary. It was this line that leaped off the clipping and tugged my heart:

She enjoyed the fellowship of Leisurely Lectionary and SAGE, organized the Monday Bridge Group for many years, and served with other parishioners monthly at the Wayside Soup Kitchen, retiring her bread knife after 10 years. 

This sacred group — this amazing group of people — wasn’t just an opportunity to study our sacred text. And Jesus, Charlott hated every time I asked her, “Tell me what you think.” She would roll her eyes dropping her Bible in her lap as she insisted, “Oh, just tell me. Just tell me what it means.” That’s how it started when it was just Betty, Charlott and me. But, it changed. Charlott changed. She was in her early 90s and I watched her grow in her faith. I watched her form new relationships with people that she never thought she’d ever connect with — especially with the gay man when she wasn’t really so sure about “them.” That story changed. Charlott transformed. It was amazing to watch even as her health deteriorated, but her spirit was never diminished.

I will always member that second summer that we attempted Beach Chair Theology sitting on the patio of one of the same beloved member who sent me the obituary. We were studying the Book of Ruth and had gotten to the part about Boaz. We were trying to understand Ruth’s motives when Charlott piped up, “Oh, she’s just a dumb blonde.” At 93 years old, she never lived down this one-liner. And I sure as hell wasn’t going to let that happen as a blonde myself. But our relationship was like that.

I want to find the words to describe what she taught me because I know that she taught me a lot. I know that her spirit will always be one of those presences that I carry with me. She gave me the rare and precious gift of allowing me to be her pastor when I had no idea what the hell that meant. More than that, maybe, she allowed me to love her. She allowed me to hold her esteem and never failed to tell me exactly what she thought. I will miss her. I already do.

God bless you Charlott for the saint that you are and always will be.

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