Purple flowers: guest collection #9

photo (75)

by Martha Shout Brown
Fourth Presbyterian Church
Chicago, Illinois
30 September 2014

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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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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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Trust they know

My head hurts
my heart hangs heavy
my gut aches
for dear friends
whose
heads hurt and
hearts hang heavy and
guts ache
as they live through
challenging, painful,
stressful, disturbing,
unjust, oppressive
situations where
I can do nothing
but hold them close
in my aching gut
my heavy hurt
my heavy heart
and trust they know
how deeply I care.

8 October 2014
Louisville, KY

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World Teachers’ Day

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On World Teachers’ Day, I give thanks for the many teachers who have touched my life.  I give thanks for my many friends who teach. I give thanks for the teachers in my family.

For whom do you give thanks?

A quality education offers hope and the promise of a better standard of living. However, there can be no quality education without competent and motivated teachers. On World Teachers’ Day, the UN highlights the importance of supportive environments, quality training and rights for teachers, and celebrates the crucial role teachers play in shaping our future. Events are held around the world to highlight the importance of education and to offer advice and encouragement for students who wish to begin a teaching career. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization proclaimed this Day in 1994.

See you along the Trail.

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Product placement: Grace Ji-Sun Kim

Check out the product placement in this photo of the Rev. Dr. Jesse Jackson from the October 2014 issue of Ebony magazine. Professor Starks is carry Colonialism, Han, and the Transformative Spirit by my friend the Rev. Dr. Grace Ji-Sun Kim.

Jesse Jackson, Grace's bookSee you along the Trail.

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Self care 1

The details are on my other blog, but today marked a break through in my self-care efforts. For the first time ever, I did more running that walking on the treadmill.

Over the past few days, I have been humbly and powerfully reminded of the importance of a community in this effort.

It will take a village to help me lose this boatload of weight and improve my conditioning.

For those in the village – thank you!

See you along the Trail.

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