Category Archives: Family

The day draws to a close

The day draws to a close,
yet another day
after.

The day draws to a close,
yet another day
without you.

The day draws to a close,
the pain of friends
who grieve at death,
who mourn for the dying,
touches my grief
and sends my spirit flinching
as when a child
pokes an open wound.

The day draws to a close,
the love of friends
who reach out in kindness,
who share their sorrow,
touches my soul
and sends my spirit soaring
as when a bird
rises to the air.

The day draws to a close,
grief and love mingle;
I think of you and ache.
I think of you and smile.

The Shire
Manhattan, New York
28 January 2015

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Smiles remembered after all these years

I repost this one from a year ago. It still fits and today’s busy-ness may not allow me time to write something new.

I know this day well; I never forget it; it invariably sneaks up on me and grabs me unaware; and when I pause for a moment to reflect, I remember why things feel so raw. After all these years. And then I smile.

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

Companions

When the moment comes
and we realize that the fault is,
truly in us and not the stars,
we can but work to put right
what we have done wrong
and trust the community
will rally to our side.

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Family, Friends, New York

As the year turns

In terms of self-care, 2014 proved a good year. I am down 80 pounds from my highest weight and 50 pounds from my starting weight when I got serious again in the Spring. I have, however, hit a bit of a plateau over the last three months. Hence, it is time to renew my efforts. Yet again. You can follow my efforts on Steps Along the Trail. My goals have changed a bit. Each day I want to eat well (between 2,000 and 2,200 calories); do 30 minutes of cardio of some sort; and walk for 12,000 steps. I will try to add the stretching exercises my massage therapist wants me to do. I have a couple new wrinkles to provide motivation and jump start this initiative. I have increased my goal for steps. It had been 10,000. I have instituted a reward program for when I meet all three goals for seven days. I have set a goal of running or walking or walking/running a 5K this year. I have signed up to do the virtual 5K to benefit Cutch’s Crew/Pirates Charities. I have set a tentative date of April 11 to do my 5K. I have set up steps challenges with family and friends. Most step wins. In January, the losers will donate $10 to the charity of the winner’s choice. I have resumed using My Fitness Pal to track eating and am using Run Keeper to track my outdoor walking. You can become my friend on either of those if you want to track my progress there. Another wrinkle or two will pop up as the year unfolds. It all starts tomorrow! Wish me luck. And again, feel free to follow. Or not. See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Exercise, Family, Food, Friends

Purple bottles: guest collection #10

IMAG0038 (800x452)

Recycled,
reshaped bottles,
light up as flowers.

Eric Koenig
17 December
Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens
Richmond, Virginia

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Filed under Family, Photo

Yes means yes, no means no

highlight-fact-evaw-en-244 pngI read  The Guardian report that “One in three women have experienced physical or sexual violence from their partner, while 7% will be assaulted at some point in their lives by a non-partner.” A new series of papers in the Lancet provides the source. The World Health Organization and UN Women report similar figures to document further the violence women endure.

And my tears flow.

I recognize that only a portion of the sexual and physical violence against women is reported.

And I wonder.

I wonder about what I have done and left undone. I wonder about what I will do. And I wonder if I have taught my sons and other men well enough not to rape and to challenge rape culture.

In my speaking and my acting, have I said clearly enough:

People, all people, all people of every sexual orientation and gender identity, are precious and to be treated with dignity and respect.

Rape and sexual violence are wrong. Don’t rape. Don’t commit sexual violence.

Yes means yes. Sexual relations must be consensual. Without consent, sexual contact is rape. No nuances. No maybes. Consent. Freely given. Yes means yes.

No means no. Whenever no is said. No matter how many yeses may have preceded it. No means no.

No circumstances justify rape or sexual violence. None. No one “asks” to be raped. No one “deserves” to be raped. No circumstances!

Each person is a human being. No one, no group of people, are objects to be exploited for other people’s pleasure.

Believe someone who says they have been raped or violated sexually. Alleged perpetrators deserve their day in court. But too often people who report rape are automatically discounted and discredited. That needs to stop. Perhaps there are a few false reports. The overwhelming, overwhelming majority are not. It takes enormous courage to come forward and report a violation. We need to have the decency to listen and believe. We need to make sure that systems and structures are in place to support those who report abuse and to make sure full investigations followed, when appropriate, by trials or other legal measures, take place.

Patriarchy must be dismantled. Masculinity redefined. Ideas of control and power and violence that combine to fuel rape must be re-imagined and replaced with ideas of mutuality and equality.

Intervene. If you witness rape or sexual violation happening or about to happen, say something. Do something. Report. AND say something when you hear people objectify or describe about others inappropriately. Or express a desire to treat others inappropriately.  Or tell jokes that demean or degrade people sexually.

People, all people, all people of every sexual orientation and gender identity, are precious and to be treated with dignity and respect.

I wonder. And I hope and pray that I have taught my sons and others well. I hope and pray that I will continue to do so. I hope and pray that I will work to end rape culture and honor all people.

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Current Events, Family, Human Rights

Pam and Tricia, Tricia and Pam

Pam's buttonWe never work for justice, in any sphere of our living, alone.

Each of us does our part, whatever that part may be. But we do our part within the context of a larger community. That can happen without our ever meeting others in the community. Together we work, and our work together makes a difference but our paths do not cross in person.

It can also be the case that we work for justice with people on a daily or regular basis. That can be challenging and frustrating. It can simply be the way things are. It can be an absolute blessing. It can even be a mixture of all those dynamics.

My partner, Tricia, has worked for justice for our sisters and brothers in the LGBTQ community for over twenty years as a volunteer and in a professional capacity. She has worked for full inclusion in the church and for human rights within society. She has worked with many people through that time. And she has known frustration and challenge. And she has known joy and blessing.

Pam Byers served as the founding executive director of the Covenant Network of Presbyterians. Tricia worked with her as the network’s national organizer until Pam’s retirement. They made an amazing team. They developed a deep friendship. They worked well together and did good work.

Tricia and PamIn 2011, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) amended the Book of Order changed to remove G-6.0106b. Pam and Tricia, Tricia and Pam were among those who helped make this happen. As part of a community, they helped change the culture of the church in relation to our LGBTQ brothers and sisters. Work remains to do, much work, but Tricia and Pam, Pam and Tricia with their friends and colleagues helped bend the arc of justice a bit.

Pam Byers, child of God, justice-seeker, ruling elder, tireless evangelist, loving family member, devoted friend, died of cancer on October 27, 2014. And I grieve.

I grieve for and with Pam’s family who played an important role in her life and her ministry.

I grieve for and with her congregation and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) which she loved so fiercely and served so courageously and faithfully.

I grieve for and with her colleagues in the Covenant Network, the LGBTQ community, and other groups and individuals committed to, and working for, justice.

And I grieve for and with Tricia who mourns the death of a trusted and respected colleague, a dear friend, and a sister in Christ.

But as I grieve, I give thanks. I give thanks that Pam’s pain is ended. I give thanks for her life and love, her witness and faith. I give thanks that the journey to justice continues. And I give thanks that, in the Communion of Saints, Pam Byers accompanies us on that journey.

See you along the Trail.

A word about the photos. The first photo shows a button Pam regularly wore at meetings of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) General Assembly. Tricia posted it on Facebook. The second photo shows Tricia (in the flowered jacket under the banner) and Pam (to her right in the photo) among friends and colleagues as is only fitting. It comes from Ray Bagnuolo.

You are invited to join in a toast, beverage of your choice, in memory and honor of Pam Byers at 20:11 (8:11 PM) Eastern time or in your own time zone.

 

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