Martin speaks with a quiet authority, a result of a lifetime of zeal for theology and “mystery,” beginning with his days at St. Meinrad (class of 1970) and moving through his counseling degree from St. Mary’s University in Baltimore, his University of Evansville campus ministry, and his private practice as a counselor. He credits much of his learning to both his personal and his spiritual relationships, especially to his wife, Susan, who “gave me the chance to experience the blessing of family.”
Martin is a man who laughs easily and often, who has chosen to integrate psychological counseling with faith and introspection to help heal—himself and others. “My own story is one of needing healing. It’s humbling to work in counseling. It’s a huge blessing. To be a therapist is to receive great gifts from others.”
He acknowledges that Advent, this year from Dec. 1 to Dec. 24, is his favorite liturgical and prayer season. “It is a time to sit in the silence…quite at odds with commercialization.”
I am moved by Martin’s reverence for a time of the year that causes some to sink into materialism, isolation, or despair. I have been wondering, what would it be like if awe and wonder for December could belong to everyone? If anyone—Christian, atheist, pantheist, Muslim, Jew, the sacrilegious, the downtrodden, the disappointed, the disinterested—felt worthy of and open to the call for reflection? What if the literature, the liturgy, the music, the traditions made room for everyone?
Martin suggests that everyone’s story is one of needing healing. The holidays, he suggests, invite us all to struggle with our failures, to consider the aspect of each individual soul in connection with light, reflection, and illumination. “The journey of the soul,” he says, “is a beckoning and a mystery.” For everyone.
Of course, he comes from an introspective and educated place, one full of reverence for the saints, patience for the sinner, of courage, resilience and inspiration. And from such a place he believes in “the dignity of being human,” which translates into hope for each of us.
In December, as the call to “come near” begins in earnest, I am inspired by Charlie Martin’s excitement that the call can come from someplace deeper and more meaningful than advertising jingles, internet commerce bargains, or the mall siren calls…and that the call can come for each of us if we begin with our own permission to “sit in silence.”