In crucified agony,
breath crushed from within him,
Jesus summoned his strength to
speak one last time:
“It is finished.”

It is finished.

It is finished.

What is finished?
His life,
God’s plan,
the new community,
the way of love.
It seems that way
as his broken body
is removed.
Jesus and what he taught
and what he lived
appear over, done, eliminated
Truly finished.
So it seems to all the world.

Or could he mean something else?

Dare we wait . . .
and watch . . .
and wonder . . .
what is finished?

21 April 2014
Shire near the Hudson
Manhattan, New York


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Filed under Lent, New York, Poem

Hope, courage, love

Luke and Merdine TI have posted several times about my friend and mentor Merdine T. Morris. At her memorial service on April 12, I saw a photo of Merdine T. with her husband, Lucas. Luke. During the memorial service, Merdine T.’s friends and colleagues and pastors witnessed to her deep commitment to justice and peace and the countless ways she lived out those commitments. 

Listening, I recalled the photo and remembered how Luke made Merdine T.’s witness possible. He stood with her, prayed for her, provided transportation for her. Luke was the good, good man who stood beside this good, good woman.

It seems only right to post a reflection about Luke. I wrote this for his memorial service.

Lucas Morris revealed hope.  In a world so horribly obsessed with race, any crossing of the racial divide is an act of grace.  As he lived, Luke endured the shifting and unchanging reality of being black in America where privilege is given to those who are white.  He was wounded.  But he was never broken.  He was not embittered.  He played a key role in helping to create the special relationship between St. Mark’s Presbyterian Church and Noble Road Presbyterian Church.  And when the time came, he was willing – he and Merdine T. chose – to have white pastors.  Amazing grace.  What a gift of hope.  If we refuse to give up, if we refuse to give in, if we keep on loving, maybe we can heal prejudices and remake systems and come together to live as God intends.

Lucas Morris revealed courage.  Frustration filled his recent years.  Illness touched him and it never let go.  Every time he made even the smallest step toward recovery, something went wrong and he took two or three or ten steps back.  Again and again and again my heart broke for him.  My heart broke for Merdine T.  But none of it neither the pain nor the procedures – neither the losses nor the limitations – none of it broke his spirit.  His contagious smile – his ready laugh – his concern for others – it all remained and shone through on even his worse days.  Our character is revealed not in times of ease but in moments of distress.  Luke was strong and true.

Lucas Morris revealed love.  He had deep, abiding love for Merdine T. and for his family.  He had deep, abiding love for his friends.  He had concern for all of God’s children.  When visited, Luke would ask about Merdine T., about his friends, about my family, about others in the church in need.  You may say it was a ritual.  You may say it was a way of shifting the focus from his own situation.  I know it was expressed his depth of feeling and caring.

Lucas Morris and I laughed together.  We cried together.  We prayed together.  We agonized over the fortunes of Cleveland’s baseball team.  That one year when Cleveland had no football team, we even followed the Pittsburgh Steelers together.  With Merdine T. and Sean and Eric we shared the body and blood of Christ as well as ice cream and brownies.  And one special morning when Merdine T. was in the hospital, Luke and I delighted in a high-class breakfast of Egg McMuffins.

I thank God for the gift of Lucas Morris.  I thank God for the honor and privilege of being Luke’s friend.  I thank God that for Luke all pain is past and he is received into the warmth and wonder of God’s love.  I thank God that within that mysterious reality of the Communion of Saints Luke goes with me, goes with us, now and always.  Amen.

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Cleveland Heights, Friends

Flight 97 to Anchorage Has Been Delayed

Haunted by your absence
I stand,
Shifting weight from foot to foot.
As backpack straps dig into my shoulders,
I gaze at people scurrying by,
On their journeys from here to there.
At times my eyes fix upon a stranger,
and as the face blurs before me,
for an instant,
you, who are I know not where,
are with me.

This is an old one written in the Sea-Tac Airport sometime in 2003

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Filed under Poem, Travel

Purple flowers on an egg

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Faberge presented the Big Egg Hunt as a fundraiser for Asia’s endangered elephants through Elephant Family and children in New York City through Studio in a School. Eggs were scattered across the city with QR codes to identify them. The idea being you were to find the eggs photograph them and tag them with the code. The eggs are now on display at Rockefeller Plaza. Makes them easier to find. Thanks to Tricia, Eric, Neal, and Jane who called this one to my attention.

18 April 2014
Rockefeller Center
Manhattan, New York

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Filed under Family, New York, Photo

Purple octopuses, not flowers, New York Aquarium

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Spotted these in the gift shop
and had to take their photo.

Perhaps they have a garden.

18 April 2014
New York Aquarium
Brooklyn, New York

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Filed under New York, Photo

Earthen vessels

photo (63)A rainbow of people,
speaking many languages,
with a multitude of accents,
filled the car on the
uptown 1 Train
as we returned after viewing
All the Way.
And I pondered how far we have come;
and I grieved how far we have to go:
and I remembered how the people portrayed in the show,
Johnson, King, Carmichael, Humphrey:
flawed, earthen vessels all,
helped bend, however slightly,
the long arc of the moral universe towards justice;
and I gave thanks,
and I wondered how I might join that effort.

17 April 2014
Shire near the Hudson


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Filed under Antiracism, New York

Purple flowers, Seattle Peace Garden 3


purple on the top,
recently rained upon,
they patiently await
the more rain to come
for more rain always comes
in Seattle.

22 February 2014
Peace Garden
Seattle, Washington

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Filed under Photo, Travel