The Morgan Church Devotional

a pastor's thoughts about...uhm...stuff

Location: Morgan, VT., United States

follower of Jesus. husband & father. friend. pastor.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Charlie Hill

the caretaker of a church i pastored years ago (i can't believe i can say that!) was a very simple man. he was borderline retarded, i am sure...i am just as sure he was never evaluated. he grew up in the south, abandoned first by his father and later by his mother and was raised in some sort of foster care. i say "some sort of" because basically he was a servant, hired to work the fields and little else. he never went to school, he never went over a friend's house to play, he never went camping or on vacation...he just worked those fields and existed in this situation. as soon as he could, he left. he was sixteen years old. sixteen. but, he felt (probably correctly) that he was better off.

he drifted around the south for a while...doing odd jobs and working farms. he drank...chased looked down on by whites. he came north to nj in the mid-1960's, still doing odd jobs, but no longer working on farms. i don't know when or how he became the care taker of the church. but there he was, like he had always been there.

he was an interesting guy. he went to sleep at 5am and woke up at 1 or 2 in the afternoon. he never ventured out before 6 or 7 pm and when he did, he always (always!) wore very dark sunglasses--the kind of sunglasses a blind man wears. i lived in the same house as him for about 2 years (and spent many weekends there before i moved in) and i can count the times i saw him without his glasses on my hands. he swept the side walk in front of the church every night at about 11pm and had dinner at midnight. he'd cook up a hot dog and collared greens and maybe a potato...i'm glad he never offered me some, it smelled awful.

he loved the honeymooners. but i think channel 11 was the only channel his rabbit ear attenea brought in (or he never realized he could turn the dial and watch other channels-i don't know), so that was all there was to watch. it could have been lucy, or the 3 stooges or abbott and costello or al bundy (as a matter of fact, he liked al bundy too). he took what he got and never complained.

i think he had a lot to complain about. but he never complained. occasionally he would lament a little...he wasn't happy when he told me about the times he had to stand in the corner on one leg for an hour or two...he wasn't smiling when he told me about being abandoned by both of his birth parents...he didn't chuckle when he told me he hasn't heard from his sister in decades. but he didn't complain about it was just the way it was, is all.

at some point in time, things changed for charlie. well, i guess it's better to say, at some point in time charlie changed. i don't know when (i'm not sure he knows when)...but he was changed.

we were talking about faith one day and charlie said "alls i know is, one day i was going thataway and i turned around and started going thisaway" he strawled...charlie didn't drawl in the traditional southern sense. he...spoke...v...e...r...y...slowly, but without a twang or a lilt to it.

he was going one way...but he turned around and went this way. charlie might not understand the word repentance...but he was repentant.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another great example of God using ordinary people to teach extraordinary lessons. Thank God for people like Charlie.


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