Category Archives: Family

Homes

Thoughts of home have filled my last few days.

Or perhaps I should say thoughts about the many homes I know.

video showing clips of movies filmed in Pittsburgh and a photo posted by my friend Mihee Kim-Kort about her family’s recent road trip, reminded me of the home where I grew: Neville Island.

I realized that no matter how much I like New York, where I now live; no matter how much I like Louisville where I spent ten years and where I make many trips for work; no matter how much I like Cleveland Heights where Tricia lives now and we raised our family; no matter how much, and most days how much means a great deal, I will always, always, always bleed black and gold.

S is for SnowBut this week also saw our ministry host a group from First Presbyterian Church of Albuquerque, New Mexico. And in our conversations I found myself longing for Ghost Ranch and Northern New Mexico, the home of my soul, the place where, every time I visit, I know I belong in a way like I belong in no other place on the planet.

Home of my childhood.

Home of my family.

Home of transition.

Home of the present.

Home of my soul.

All precious places. All blur together.

I give thanks for my homes and I pray and work for the day when all people have a safe place to call home.

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Cleveland Heights, Family, Louisville, New York

Cheering section

We both stopped short as we came to the corner. I walked close to the building, too close I admit. Perhaps Ralph and Sally did, too. But we both stopped short; we averted a collision.

“Mark. You are losing weight again. Well done,” Ralph gushed.

His excitement and enthusiasm has remained with me all day. I have reflected on the experience all day.

Today marks the ninth day I have worked at self-care. This time. I have made many efforts in recent years as well. Sometimes I do well for a stretch and then everything falls apart. Eight days, soon nine, represents one of my longer efforts.

Ralph’s encouraging words, reminded me of how this time is different from earlier efforts and how this time is the same.

What is different, is this time I am working with a doctor with whom I feel connected. I have liked my earlier doctors. I have trusted them. But this time, something clicked with my new doctor from my first visit in May. I had a pretty good run after the appointment. Then I spent two weeks eating everything that did not move while at the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s General Assembly. My second visit took place on June 23. She gave me advice and now I try to apply it.

What is the same, is the community of accountability that surrounds and sustains and supports me. It includes friends and family who have expressed concern for my health – and who have voiced support for my efforts. Some in the group comment on my Facebook posts or follow the blog where I make reports or engage me in conversations, virtual and real. They have made their support known to me and I appreciate it them deeply. They serve as my personal cheering section. Others, such as Ralph, cheer me on even when I am unaware of their presence.

To all the members of this accountability group, family and friends, known and unknown, I say thank you. With your support, I have made a great start. The journey continues.

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Exercise, Family, Food, Friends, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

Celluloid connections

I always enjoy recognizing places I know in movies, particularly when it surprises me. It brings back memories and makes connections with people and places. A recently viewed movie became much more enjoyable when I spotted Pedernal in the background.

This morning, I finished watching The Quare Fellow, an adaptation of Brendan Behan‘s play. It presents a critique of thedeath penalty as it focuses on two pending execution.

The character subje ct to execution is not named or seen, except with a hood over his head at the hanging. The crime remains unnamed.

As a death penalty opponent, who has not been active enough lately, I appreciate that. My opposition is to the death penalty – to the state taking a life. My opposition depends neither on the person nor the certainty of guilt nor the crime for which the person is convicted, many of which are truly horrific. I grieve for those killed and violated in the crime. But executing the criminal demeans society. Execution is the issue.

Given such a topic, the movie is bleak and somber.

I recognized a filming location as Kilmainham Gaol. Kilmainham has a painful, tragic, troubling history. It is a place of defiance and resistance. All that washed over me this morning.

541970_10150941839146063_1422754043_nBut so did the memory of visiting Kilmainham with Tricia and Bruce and Nancy when we were in Dublin for the wedding of Joel and Roja. And the connections to my family and friends warmed me. (And yes, I realize celluloid is not used much anymore.)

See you along the Trail.

 

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Filed under Capital Punishment, Death Penalty, Family, Friends, Ireland, Movie

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

There is you

Years roll on, time goes by,
there is you.

Tears do flow, tears do dry,
there is you.

Fears arise, fears subside,
there is you.

Many miles may divide,
there is you.

Sorrows fade, as does pain,
there is you.

Laughter, joy, love remain,
there is you.

And I give thanks.

For TDK
15 February 2014
Shire near the Hudson

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Filed under Family, New York, Poem

Smiles remembered

I grieve this day at the death of Pete Seeger. Musician, activist, educator, song-leader.

I saw Pete Seeger play several times. At one concert, he and Si Kahn sat beside me for a few moments while other musicians played. They asked me for the time. And Pete smiled at me when he thanked me.

I grieve. And the grief I feel for this man of hope and peace and justice and grace taps into other, deeper, older, rawer grief.

That grief too is for a musician. A musician who smiled at me often.

Forty years ago this day,  on January 28, 1974, my father climbed into a small plane with another educator from Grove City. They planned a trip to Harrisburg, the state capitol, where they were to advocate for funds for the Grove City Public School system.

At the time of his death, my father worked as the assistant superintendent for the Grove City Public School system. But he was a musician. He played string bass in the pit orchestra for the high school musicals. He directed the town band. He was a tennis player. He was a photographer. He was also a private pilot. Though they had tickets on a commercial airline, the two colleagues decided my father would fly.

The plane went down near Emlenton. The crash site only located the next day. When I arrived at JFK a day later, after a college choir trip to Europe, family members met me and broke the news and broke my heart.

Tonight,  I raise a glass for Pete and for my father.photo (57)

Because grief lasts, I raise a glass to remember loses and acknowledge pains.

And because love never ends, I raise a glass to give thanks and to celebrate love shared past, present, and future.

On this day of his death, I raise a glass to Peter Seeger, to life lived, songs sung, justice sought, and one unforgettable smile.

On this anniversary, I raise a glass to William Koenig, to his life, to the time, the far too short time, we shared. To all I learned. To laughter and tears. To music made well and badly. To a multitude of remembered smiles.

Goodnight and joy be with you, Pete.

Goodnight and joy be with you, Dad.

Goodnight and joy be with us all.

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Family, Music

An achy night

My fingers ache
from the cold
and for those
who cannot come in
from the cold.

My heart aches for family, friends
and people I have not met, will never meet,
who heavy loads bear:
illness and sorrow
grief, pain and worry.

My soul aches for God’s children
in this city and around the world
who endure violence,
overt or structured
this day, every day.

I ache.

And I wonder,
is there a balm?

7 January 2014
Shire Near the Hudson

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Filed under Family, Friends, Poem

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

A simple star cut from paper bearing a word – received as a gift from God on Epiphany or the Sunday closest to Epiphany.

Many congregations participate in the practice known as Epiphany Stars.

Here’s how it works: Individuals have the opportunity to pick out of a basket a paper star.  The star will have a word on it, naming a gift from God; visually, nothing special, as God’s gifts are not always flashy.  Sometimes the gift is known by all to be one that you already evidence or experience in abundance.  Sometimes you will feel that it is something you’ve needed, a challenge to work on.  Often it’s something you don’t understand, or could learn more about.  In any case, it will provide you an opportunity to ponder and pray in the coming year.  It’s suggested that you display it during the year in a place where you will see it often.

As far as I know, the first Presbyterian congregation to experience Epiphany Star Gifts was Carpinteria Community Church in Carpinteria, California when the Rev. Sam Roberson served as pastor. An article about Epiphany Star Gifts appeared sometime during the late 1980s in Presbyterian Survey. A number of congregations picked up the idea, including Noble Road Presbyterian Church in Cleveland Heights where my partner and I served as co-pastors.

Noble Road has continued to share stars each Sunday. Even after Tricia and I took other calls, our sons would draw stars for us. This year, Tricia preached at Noble Road. The star she drew for me said: RESPECT.

I have long wondered if I am Batman. Now I am thinking that I may be Aretha.

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Family, Friends, Worship

A new beginning

From Batman Begins:

Alfred Pennyworth: Why do we fall sir? So we might learn to pick ourselves up
Bruce Wayne: You still haven’t given up on me?
Alfred Pennyworth: Never

In my efforts at self-care, I have fallen often.

I have learned well how to pick my self up.

Family and friends, long-time and new, have never given up on me.

Today, as the secular new year dawns, I make a new beginning. Again.

As in the recent past, I will attempt to post results on Steps along the Trail. You are welcome to follow. Or not.

See you along the Trail.

 

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Filed under Exercise, Family, Friends, Movie

Home

This originally appeared on Facebook as a response to a friend who asked:

What is home? How do you create a sense of home inside you?

After some reflection, I respond:

Home is the place where I belong, truly belong. I may find myself belonging in several places: Pittsburgh, where I grew up; Cleveland Heights where my wife lives and my children grew up; New York, where I live now. But home is the place (and it is not on that list) where my sense of belonging is strongest and most clear. It is the place I yearn for in times of stress and sorrow; it is the place that feeds my spirit and my soul even when I am not there. For me, I knew it was home the first time I arrived there.

Home are the people, past and present, who nurture and mentor me; challenge and infuriate me; love me.

Home is the place that awaits me.

Home is the journey. It is the Trail, in the language of this blog.

Home is a gift.

How would you answer?

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Family, Friends