Monthly Archives: October 2011

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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Filed under New York, Photo

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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Filed under Football

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

Negative calories?

I had some Ben and Jerry‘s ice cream last night.

I did not pay close enough attention to what I purchased. Nor did I notice when I served it.

My first taste brought a delightful coffee flavor. I then checked the label: Coffee Heath Bar Crunch.

Reading the label more carefully I realized that the flavor derives from Fair Trade Certified™ coffee extract.

That got me to thinking: such ice cream must have negative calories, right?

If so, or if not – I recommend it highly!

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Food, New York, Photo

Grief compounds grief

Grief compounds grief.

Each new loss, however profound or simple, touches old losses, however simple or profound, however raw or well-healed.

The losses need not be ours. When a family member – someone we love – even a friend – endures a loss, it sets the spider web of our emotions trembling. It touches our soul.

Each new loss tears at us, raking the scars and the scabs we carry – sometimes causing minor irritation – sometimes a bit of seepage – sometimes opening afresh old wounds – sometimes inflicting new ones.

Grief compounds grief.

I have shared that insight with family, parishioners and friends.

I have known that intellectually.

I have lived that.

Grief compounds grief.

In recent days, a number of my friends have experienced the death of dogs – faithful pets, beloved companions.

I have grieved for each friend – I grieved with each friend.

And in that grieving, I have come to realize – that I still grieve for Charley – who shared life with our family – who shared life with my brother’s family – for many years. On a pretty day at the end of April, Charley was put to sleep following a period of illness.

With a heart that aches for many reasons, I say to my friends who grieve the loss of a pet – peace. Peace be with you. Remember. Shed a tear. And rejoice.

Grief compounds grief.

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Family, Photo

That grieves me, too

I grieve for Elias Ocean Johnson whose young life ended far too soon – almost before it began – and far too brutally. I tremble as I seek to imagine what his last moments were like – what his few months were like.

I grieve for Dana Johnson, his mother and all who loved Elias.

I grieve for Christopher T. Johnson who reportedly testified to, and was convicted of, killing Elias. Alabama executed Johnson this evening.

I grieve for the prison personnel called upon to take Johnson’s life; I grieve for those who love them.

Johnson did not want anyone to block his execution and he filed no appeals. What he said he did appalls me and offends me. The cruel, violent act that took the life of baby Elias also violated and brutalized our society.

Yet, in my grief, I also believe that by taking Johnson’s life, the state – our society – has also been wounded and diminished. Our willingness to take a life for a life appears an act of vengeance – not of justice – not of restoration – not of seeking some new possibility out of an act of evil.

I do not know what should happen to those who kill our sisters and brothers, however old, however young. That grieves me, too. But I am sure that capital punishment is not the answer.

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Capital Punishment, Death Penalty, Human Rights

I wonder

Alabama will, in all likelihood, execute Christopher T. Johnson on October 20. Johnson has been convicted of a heinous crime – the murder of his son – a six-month old child. My heart breaks for Elias Ocean Johnson and those who love him. Johnson does not deny the crime – published reports indicate that he has admitted that he committed the crime.

Writers describe Johnson as a “volunteer.” He acted as his own attorney and has rejected appeals.

Yet even under these circumstances, I wonder:

What do we gain by Johnson’s execution?

How does it benefit Elias? Or protect other babies from abuse?

Does an execution – any execution – not demean and degrade the State and all of us? What does it say about us? What does it do to our soul?

Does imposing the death penalty – under these circumstances, under any circumstances – not brutalize our society? Is it not an act of vengeance – a denial of the possibility of repentance and renewal?

Does Johnson’s willingness to be executed absolve the state or change the reality of the death penalty?

I wonder . . . but I still oppose this and all executions.

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Capital Punishment, Death Penalty