Journal of a Living Lady #317
Nancy White Kelly
The most memorable event of my life occurred on March 28, 1980. The lengthy scar from a C-section frequently reminds me of the pangs of pain I experienced that wonderful Friday night.
Charlie was playing the piano by ear by the time he was two. When he was five, he was entertaining friends and family with Chariots of Fire while stretching his scrawny little legs to reach the then distant pedals.
Fast forward over a quarter of a century. Charlie was recently helping a friend who is the youth minister at his church. While the group of adolescents was wolfing pizza in the Fellowship Hall, Charlie quietly slipped away. He headed to the church sanctuary across the street for a secret rendezvous.
It wasn’t the first time he had done so. His private pleasure was to play the church’s grand piano with all the passion of a pianist at Carnegie Hall. That was his maternal grandmother’s fantasy dream…to see him play there someday. She will have to settle for his music in heaven, but not too soon I hope.
That worship center of the church was not being used. He opened the heavy doors to the sanctuary and was amazed at the total pitch darkness. He had seen dark in there before, but never so dark as that night. He pulled out his cell-phone to use as a light. He carefully walked down the far right aisle. The dim beam of the little phone barely caught the outside edges of the pews.
Charlie inched toward the front of the sanctuary. He climbed the side steps and felt his way to the magnificent piano. His searching fingers found the sheet-music light which he switched on. He was amazed at how powerful that little light bulb seemed in such utter blackness.
As he stood thumbing through the hymnal, he heard a sound. It wasn’t much, but enough to perk his ears. Charlie peered out into the total darkness. After a brief moment of futile gazing, a deep voice interrupted.
“I am here to pray.”
Charlie heart skipped to this throat.
“That’s fine,” he replied. “Will piano music disturb you?”
The yet unseen man replied that it wouldn’t. After a few minutes of soft playing, Charlie turned toward the distant man.
“I suppose we should introduce ourselves.”
A shadowy figure emerged from the darkness. As he came closer, Charlie observed that he was a muscular, middle-aged man. His face was life-worn and his head was shaved.
“I heard that the sanctuary was always open,” the man said. “My wife’s grandmother attends here.”
“Yes,” Charlie replied. “We are always open though we don’t advertise that to the public. Is there anything you would like to talk about?”
The stranger replied that he could go on all night about his problems. Charlie responded that sometimes people need others to talk to and that perhaps God brought them together.
The man was full of troubles, mostly related to his marriage and finances. He and his wife used to be church-goers, but had back-slid to the point of seldom going now.
Charlie, being considerably younger, awkwardly stumbled for the right words for the distraught visitor. Charlie prayed for wisdom as he shared Bible verses and common-sense advice. The man unloaded his sordid past and Charlie listened and responded compassionately. When it was time to part, the man agreed to follow up with a counselor that Charlie recommended.
The man came to a dark church to pray and to seek a response from God. Little did Charlie know that he would be the Almighty’s channel for blessing.
Little did Buddy and I know what God had planned for him that night, twenty-eight years ago, when this miracle son was welcomed to the world. Happy birthday, Charlie.