Category Archives: Family

Thanks to my village!

A good friend gave me this plaque on Friday: IMG_3419

It speaks profoundly to my experience. We do not travel the Trail alone. We do so accompanied by family and friends who care for us, sometimes in ways we fail to realize. We do so surrounded by neighbors and people we do not know whose lives touch ours in surprising, amazing ways. And we do so supported by sisters and brothers we will never meet, sisters and brothers who work hard, and whose labor is sometimes exploited, to allow us to enjoy the lives we have. There is much to ponder.

For tonight, I use this plaque as an opportunity to thank those who support my self-care effort. Tricia, Sean, and Eric have been great! Certain friends are key to my effort. Many are always there. A number have become part of my community of accountability, receiving self-serving emails with gentle grace. Their support comes in many forms: reading what I write, responding, sending an unexpected text, providing a plaque and vitamins, answering questions, asking on Facebook, “Have you been to the gym?”, and more.

A wider community also takes care of me. People who like or comment on Facebook posts. People who take the moment to say encouraging words. People like Greg, who literally gushed about my progress before and after the service when I preached at the Church of the Covenant.

It takes a village to lose a boatload of weight and take care of oneself. At least it does for me. To each of you – to all of you – in  my village, my thanks. I hope I care for you as well as you care for me.

See you along the Trail.

 

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Filed under Exercise, Family, Food, Friends

Announcement: a roommate

I have a roommate.

There. I have said it publicly.

Oh, Tricia visits the Shire from time to time, not enough. Eric has been here. Friends stay with me.

But now, I am no longer alone. I have a roommate.

We have been together for a little over a month. I wanted to see how this new relationship would work out before I acknowledged it. That probably was not fair to my new roommate, but one can never be too certain about how new relationships. They change our lives. They have the potential to impact existing relationships. But it has worked well. So this seems the opportune moment to let the world, or at least the two loyal readers of my blog, know.

My roommate is the strong, silent type. It may be even more accurate to describe my roommate as the strong, silent, immobile type. One might even use the word potted and speak the truth.

While my roommate asks nothing and says less, I can count on a welcoming wave at all times of day.

With thanks to Lydia who introduced us when she stayed at the Shire, and apologies for my hesitancy in acknowledging our relationship, here’s Norman:

IMG_3418
See you along the Trail.

 

 

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Filed under Family, Friends, New York, Photo

Love that never ends

There are people whose words carry deep weight and profound meaning. They matter.

JHerbert and motherJohnalee Barnes Nelson was such a person. A woman of deep faith and profound courage, she personally witnessed for justice and peace. She supported her husband and their community in their shared witness. And together with her husband, and on her own, she raised her son to be an advocate, a witness.

I am humbled and proud to call her son, J. Herbert Nelson II my colleague, my friend, my brother. I know he is who he is, he lives as he lives, he serves as he serves, in large part because of his mother.

Each of us is shaped by, among other factors, the people in our lives. When we meet someone, we meet, to some extent, the people who have shaped them. Family. Friends. Neighbors. Teachers. Co-workers. And more. In J. Herbert, I met Johnalee Barnes Nelson.

But I also had the privilege of meeting Johnalee herself on several occasions. The most recent occurred at the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s Compassion, Peace, and Justice Training Day on March 21 of this year.

With my friends and colleagues and sisters Christine Hong and Esther Lee, I led a workshop on how different faith communities can work together to prevent violence. Johnalee attended. Because I was helping with the closing worship, I had to leave early.

As the worship ended, Johnalee made her way across the sanctuary of New York Avenue Presbyterian Church. She sought me out. And when she found me, she thanked me for the workshop and said it had been the best one she attended that day. Because of who Johnalee was, I have treasured her words. I can think of no better feedback I have ever received.

Johnalee faced health challenges. She moved to live with J. Herbert because of those challenges. At the end of September, she was hospitalized.

Today, along with my colleagues in the Compassion, Peace, and Justice Ministry, I received an email with a brief message:

I am emailing to inform you that on yesterday my mother, Johnalee Barnes Nelson transitioned to be with The Lord. The members of my family are grateful for the love and support that you offered during her lifetime.
We are planning a memorial celebration of her life in Jesus Christ. Your prayers are solicited.
In the faith we share,
J. Herbert

I grieve with J. Herbert and his family and all who loved Johnalee Barnes Nelson. I pray they may find comfort and strength in this tender time.

I give thanks for the faith and witness and love and witness of Johnalee Barnes Nelson. Faith that gives us hope through Jesus Christ. Witness in Christ’s name that has inspired others, including me. Love that never ends.

Thanks be to God.

See you along the Trail.

 

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

Charley III

As Jules places his head in my lap

Jules

I remember Charley

Charley

Charley

And, after all these years,
pain tweaks my heart,
my eyes leak,
love dances in my spirit
and a smile plays across my lips.

8 October 2014
Louisville, KY

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Filed under Cleveland Heights, Family, Louisville, Photo

Walk for Congo with CongoSwim

CongoSwim FLYER 8.5 x 11 JPEGIn conjunction with Orange Days to end violence against women and girls, CongoSwim brings together Presbyterians and people of good will to witness and raise funds to

In solidarity with the Walk for Congo in Oakland, CA, I will walk 5k (a little over 3 miles) with family members in Cleveland Heights August 23rd. If you are in town and would like to walk with us, let me know. In support of my participation, please consider the below ways to support groups working for lasting peace and an end to violence against women and children in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

  1. Pray.  Lift up all families and leaders in Congo.
  2. Advocate. One of the top requests from community leaders in Congo is for the full implementation of an existing US law regarding how the US extends military aid within the region. Click HERE to order a postcard to mail to Secretary of State Kerry.  The postcards have already helped create a change in the way the U.S. officials have chosen recent policy for Congo. Details about the US law are in the 30 minute documentary Crisis in the Congo which you can watch on the VIDEOS page.
  3. Donate. Click the ‘Donate’ button below to give what you can.  You may specify my name as the participant you are supporting.  Details about the groups we are raising funds for are on the Who We Support page.  Thank you!

DONATE

If you prefer to give by check, make it payable to Friends of the Congo and put CongoSwim and my name in the memo line.  Mail your check  to:

Friends of the Congo
1629 K St., NW Suite 300
Washington, DC 20006
 
See you along the Trail
 

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Filed under Exercise, Family, Friends

The story so far

IMG_1553 (800x600)They began making music in 1989. I discovered them in 1993 or so with their album Fire of Freedom. The combination of Celtic Rock, Irish Republican sympathies, intriguing instrumentation (guitar, uilleann pipes, saxes, and trombone), and broad influences (reggae, hip hop, folk, and jazz) grabbed me. Named after the worst year of the Great Potato Famine, Black 47 has been one of my favorites since. I have seen them in Irish festivals and bars. I have dragged friends along.

About a year ago, the band members announced the time had come for Black 47 to call it quits. They recorded a final album, The Last Call, and embarked on the Last Call Tour that will culminate on November 15 at the B.B. King Bar and Grill in New York.

On August 1, they played for Irish Night at Citi Field prior to the Mets game. Tricia went with me for one more, one last concert. In the words of their song, “Rocking the Bronx“: “that’s the story so far.” I am glad to have experienced a part of the story.

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Family, Friends, Music, New York, Photo

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

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