Category Archives: Family

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.

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 (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.


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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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.



Filed under Exercise, Family, Friends, Movie


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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Always never

Three years ago, I thought I may have said farewell to my mentor and friend Merdine T. Morris. She was ill at the time. Seriously ill. When I left her room at the Fairmount Health Center, I thought that day’s visit might well have been our last. Others agreed with me.

But Merdine T. proved us wrong. She not only made it through that crisis, she improved. She has been able to leave the health center for various events. She did so again today.

IMG_3763Our mutual friend Nan Dorer celebrated her 90th birthday today with a party at Noble Road Presbyterian Church. Tricia and I took Merdine T. to the party.

The day was wonderful. Friends old and young, long-time and new, greeted Merdine T. warmly. Her presence meant the world to Nan. We stayed for the children’s program and carol singing. Merdine T. beamed. When we returned to the Fairmount Health Center, staff members commented on the joy that filled her face. A wonderful day.

A big shout-out to Bob Pescho and Dan Wills for their work on the church’s chair lift that allowed Merdine T. to attend the worship service. A shout-out to Eric, Dan, John, Maria, Cathy, and all who helped Merdine T. navigate her way to the various events. A shout-out to David Dorer who took the photo with this post.

When I visited her three years ago, Merdine T. said “Never forget me.” “Never,” was my response then. “Never,” is my response now.

See you along the Trail.

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Advent 12: Hope

Toasting Cindy

I have resisted including explanations with my posts in the Advent-photo-a-day. This one is different. It calls for some words.

One year ago, December 12, 2012, Cindy Bolbach, moderator of the 219th General Assembly (2010) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), died.

In the sure and certain hope of the resurrection, I posted an invitation to my friends to pause wherever they were and lift a toast in thanks for the life and witness of Cindy Bolbach at 20:10 that evening. Many people participated. My son Sean joined me at a spot off Times Square where we took this photo.

The hope we celebrated one year ago holds Cindy and all of us still. Thanks be to God. Alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia.

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

The kindness of friends

The last two days provided a reminder of the importance of a network of friends.

The lesson began Friday morning. I had traveled to Louisville for a week of staff meetings. Friday’s involved all the staff members of the Presbyterian Mission Agency.

Worship opened the day. A celebration of the year’s highlights followed. Then came the recognition of our colleagues for years of service.

This played out against a weather forecast that as early as Wednesday called for bad weather. Some staff members from out of town chose to change their airline tickets early Friday morning. I did not.

The weather warnings continued as the day progressed. During the first workshop, leadership made the decision. We heard the announcement that the staff day was suspended. We could leave. The building would close at 3:00.

After one last conversation and a quick lunch, I tried to change my flight. It proved a fruitless endeavor. I decided to go to the airport and see what happened there.

I arranged to stay with Sara and John Lisherness if I could not leave. Ryan Smith took me to the airport. Some ice had accumulated. A cold icy, rain fell.

I checked in my flight. The weather deteriorated. Flights were cancelled. Snow began. Around 2:30, my plane was cancelled.

I booked a flight for today and then took a cab to John and Sara’s house where I spent a pleasant evening. As the snow piled up, the driver made his way to Willow. He even made it up the hill from Eastern Parkway. “Up the hill?” he asked. “Up the hill, sir,” I replied.

This morning, at 9:30 AM, John took me to the airport for a day’s travel adventure that ended around 8:00 PM.

Tricia began the trek from Cleveland to the Shire even earlier. She had an uneventful day, arriving at the Shire about 10:00 AM.

That is when her adventure began. The key I gave her would not work the lock. After numerous tries, she went to Max Caffe where she hung out for a while. When that got old, she came and sat in the lobby.

Ryan observed her plight on Facebook. He called James Porter. Tricia and James talked and made arrangements for him to meet her with a key. About 7:30, Tricia entered the Shire. I got in shortly thereafter.

An interesting day. A day of minor inconveniences. A day to remember our privileges. A day to give thanks for friends: Sara and John, Ryan and James. It is a blessing to have a community.

JulesJules offered amazing support as well while I was stuck in Louisville.

Of course he may have wanted my pizza.

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Family, Friends, Travel