Monthly Archives: October 2011

Thanks for all the saints

Today (Sunday 30 October – I write in Folsom, California) provided a great reminder of the Communion of Saints – a wonderful experience on Reformation Sunday and the day before All Saints’ Day.

Today brought the privilege of speaking at Davis Community Church – an experience that reminded me of the saints who are part of my life.

Mary Lynn Tobin, the pastor of Davis, and I attended college together – just a couple of years ago.

Nancy Eng MacNeill, colleague and friend, served as my chauffeur. Her family has put up with me and will continue to do so for the next few days.

Jewel Kinney, who attended a seminar that Rachel Pedersen and I led at Ghost Ranch, greeted me during the worship service.

David Rue, a friend from Cleveland where we engaged in antiracism work together, stayed for both my presentations.

Tom and Joanne Haller, long-time peace activists and acquaintances, came to the presentations as well.

Alice Nishi, who served on the task force to study reparations, made it to my first presentation.

Ripples of friendship, collaboration, and shared living, extend widely from each of these people – moving through my life, calling to mind countless individuals who have touched my life and who continue to journey with me in the Communion of Saints.

We do not live alone but within a web of relationships that transcend space and time. And that is good. Very, very good.

For all the saints – those I remember, those I forget, those I have never met – for all the saints, thanks be!

Nancy Eng MacNeill took the picture.

Yes, I need a haircut.

Yes, I need to trim my beard.

See you along the Trail.


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Filed under Friends, Travel

I ate the chocolate

I ate the chocolate.

And I made a contribution to Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF.

To the meeting of Presbyterian Social Ethicists, my friend brought a cauldron, some Fair Trade Chocolate, and Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF boxes.

“Why are you bringing chocolate?” I asked. “People will never eat it.”

It appears my friend was correct. Again.

Hopefully others will find some way to support the work of UNICEF this week and through the year.

See you along the Trail.


Filed under Food, Friends

Dazzling pool

As a dazzling pool
of gold, red, and bronze
swallows the sun,
the pilot reluctantly concedes
yet another race
and banks the plane toward
the nearest airport
and the consolation prize:
a safe landing.

26 October 2011
DL 2044

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Execution scheduled in Texas

I grieve for police officer Hector Garza, for Jessica Garcia, and for all who love them. They were killed more than a decade ago. Officer Garza was responding to a domestic dispute.

Frank Garcia, Jessica’s husband, was convicted of the murders. The State of Texas will execute Frank Garcia today unless a last-minute appeal proves successful. Reports say that Frank Garcia abused Jessica and she was attempting to leave him when the murders occurred. They also suggest that he was a gang member.

The appeal, according to published reports on the San Antonio Express Web page, raise the question of Garcia’s mental capacities.

Little or no doubt. A history of abuse. The murder of a wife. The murder of a police officer acting in the line of duty. Tragic, horrific realities.

Still I wonder. Beyond revenge, what will be served by Frank Garcia’s execution. Texas’ use of  the death penalty  did not deter him. Why do we think it would deter anyone else? It will not bring back Hector Garza. It will not bring back Jessica Garcia. It will remove any possibility, however slim, of Garcia’s rehabilitation. It will send the message that violence is the right response to violence. It will exact an eye for an eye and lead our society further down the road of brutality.

I pray for Frank Garcia. I pray for Jessica Garcia and Hector Garza and those who love them. I pray for our country.

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Capital Punishment, Death Penalty, Human Rights

Treadmill’s eyes

have I been, for longer
than I will acknowledge publicly;
but tonight, for at least this night,
the season of neglect,
the days of abandonment ended, and I

The gym
asked no questions,
expressed no words of reproach; simply
welcomed me with open arms
as though no time had passed:
grace abounded, unconditional love

And yet,
at times, not always, but at times
it seemed that I could see,
the eyes of the third treadmill on the right
fighting back tears
that stirred from depths of

25 October 2011
Shire on the Hudson
with thanks to Laura VanDale

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I cried this evening

Pittsburgh Steelers helmet

Image via Wikipedia

I cried this evening because of Aaron Smith.

Smith played defensive end for the Pittsburgh Steelers – played it well, one of their best at that position and they have had good ones – played it long, for over 12 seasons.

Late last week, the Steelers placed Aaron Smith on the injured reserve list, ending his year before the season ended for the third time in a row. A neck injury caused this move. Many speculated that it would end not only the 2011 season, but Smith’s career.

Today I learned the truth of that thinking.

Aaron Smith’s career has come to an end. In the words of Ron Cook, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writer:

I’m guessing a lot of other Steelers felt like crying when they heard that Smith was done at 35 after 12 1/2 NFL seasons. Team neurosurgeon Joe Maroon examined Smith and couldn’t promise him that he wouldn’t have a catastrophic neck injury if he played again. Instead, Smith will have surgery that will allow him to continue to lead a normal life.

The news of Smith’s retirement tugged at my heart, but the reminder of Smith’s personal life brought tears to my eyes.
In October 2008, Smith’s son, Elijah, then 4, was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia — a cancer of the white blood cells that has a high survival rate.
The Smith family went public when they realized they could help others in their situation. They have talked about Elijah’s illness and inspired blood drives. Elijah is doing well.
Aaron Smith’s forced retirement saddens me. His grace and courage and love elicits my tears.
See you along the Trail.

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The Diplomat and the Bomber

I wrote this a number of years ago. A question about whether we should rejoice at the death of Muammar Qadhafi called it to mind. I wrote shortly after the 2003 Canal Hotel bombing that killed Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General to Iraq Sergio Viera de Mello and over 20 others, including the suicide bomber. The events are dated; the concerns remain real.

working to build a better world,
we readily recognize
diplomat Sergio Viera de Mello
as a child of God.

Known only
by a final act
of evil desperation,
we strain
through our horror, grief, and revulsion
to comprehend that
the unknown bomber
is God’s child too.

In fathomless mystery,
God who made and loved
the bomber,
the diplomat,
and everyone who perished
in deafening roar and blinding flash,
in smoke and rubble,
now holds them all securely in the arms of grace.

And we are left
to weep,
to mourn,
to wonder,
to struggle for some shred of understanding,
and to take up anew
the seemingly endless task
of seeking justice and wholeness
for all God’s children.

August 2003
Shire near the Ohio

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I lit a candle

Peter Tibi, from South Sudan, and I visited the Cathedral Church of St. John Divine. It has fascinated me ever since I learned of Madeleine L’Engle‘s connection with the place. Peter and I spent over an hour there. It will take many visits to experience all the cathedral offers.

I noticed two places in the cathedral where people had lit candles for people and situations in New York City and around the world. The glow warmed me. And challenged me.

Upon returning to the Shire on the Hudson, I lit a candle of my own: a candle for all those people, all those places, all those situations, all those circumstances for whom no candles have been lit. The candle burns not for who I know nor for what I know. It burns to remind me of those I do not know – those I forget – those I ignore.

See you along the Trail.


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Thank you, Aaron Smith

Pittsburgh Steelers logo

Image via Wikipedia

The news that the Pittsburgh Steelers have placed Aaron Smith on the injured reserve list brings a twinge of sorrow. He played a key, unsung role on the defense for many years, never achieving superstar status, but never receiving the recognition that he deserves. He helped make the Steelers defense one of the dominant defenses during his thirteen years on the team. They never equaled the status of the Steel Curtain, although they exceeded that defense in some statistical categories. But the game has changed in over the last forty years.

This marks the third consecutive year that Smith has landed on injured reserve, unable to play a full season. At his age, one has to wonder, will he come back again? Even before his current injuries resulted in an end to his year, conversation indicated this could be his final year.

Should he come back again – should this be the end – either way – thank you Aaron Smith for the professionalism and poise which you brought to your role in the Black and Gold for so long.

See you along the Trail.

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Willow at Harlem Meer

The willow,
driven mad by
thirst it cannot quench
via its root system,
dips its branches into
Harlem Meer.

Central Park
22 October 2011


Filed under Poem