The psalm we heard today(Psalm 121) falls in the category of the psalms of ascent. This category of psalms is made up of 15 psalms that speak to some element of pilgrimage or journey. This particular psalm talks about trust that can sustain us through the journey o f life. This idea of life being a journey isn’t really a new idea for us. We are accustomed to that imagery. Some of our journeys take us to many different places, and some of our journeys are more figurative. While Charlie lived in Hampton for most of his life, that did not make his life any less of a journey. It was full of twists and turns. It was full of excitement, but also constancy and stability.
I spoke with a number of people about Charlie, and read the beautiful obituary and the many loving comments that followed. A common theme was that he was a man of integrity. What I loved about the obituary was that it did not focus on his successful business or his importance in the community, but instead on howhe operated his business, which really was more of a family than a business. (Which is why the people from Amory seafood are seated with the family.) One person said that “Charlie proved that ruthlessness and rudeness are not necessary to be a large success in business.” He was a businessman with a heart.
I was told that you would not hear an unkind word said about him because he did so much for people. He took care of people. People knew that they could put their trust in him and that he would not let them down. That’s a good legacy to have.
Psalm 121 talks about the trust that we have in the Lord. The trust that this psalmist has in the Lord allows the psalmist to face the challenges of life and feel safe, even when life feels anything put safe. One of the themes is that God is the keeper of our soul. When in trouble, the psalmist looks to the hills and asks where help will come from and immediately answers that his help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth. It’s a popular psalm because I think many people crave that kind of faith, that belief that there is a caring an omnipotent presence in our world that loves us and wants to be loved…a being that we can trust our lives and our hearts with.
I try hard never to compare people to Jesus or God, because as we know, we all fall short of that. But I also believe that we see glimpses of God in people. We see attributes of God in people. Charlie was described universally as a man with integrity, and what is integrity, but another word for trust? So often in this world we are told that only the tough survive and thrive. The tender hearted get trampled on. There are so many people who live in fear of being trampled and taken advantage of– they refuse to show vulnerability, or even kindness. Yet from what I have gleaned about Charlie…he was tender hearted.
He was successful, partly because he loved so fully and completely. His wife told me that he was the soft touch in the family. If she ever said, “Wait until your father comes home” when disciplining their children, they would know that she was kidding. He was kind. And you know what, kindness is severely underrated in this day and age.
Right now in our world, we look to all types of places for help and direction. We look to the internet and social media. We look to things that we can buy and sell. We look to false prophets of all sorts. And those things and people fall short. I know that losing someone like Charles, even someone who had a wonderful and full life is devastating. We rejoice in the way he lived, but we also mourn the loss.
The author of Psalm 121 tells us to lift our eyes to the hills. We don’t have hills here in Hampton Roads, but we have the sea. We have the horizon that seems endless. Charlie and his family built their lives on the vast waters of our region. These waters are unpredictable at times, yet the yield of those waters have provided for generations. They have nourished our bodies and to some degree, our souls. Charlie has finished his earthly pilgrimage, but he continues his journey beyond the horizon, to a place we cannot see, but a place that we see glimpses of in the sunsets and the storms. I hope that his words and actions will continue to inspire you to love fiercely and loyally, to earn and deserve trust. May we never forget that in the end, our help, our faith rests in the Lord, the keeper and protector of our souls. May we find comfort in the relentless love of our Lord, Jesus Christ.