Monthly Archives: December 2014

As the year turns

In terms of self-care, 2014 proved a good year. I am down 80 pounds from my highest weight and 50 pounds from my starting weight when I got serious again in the Spring. I have, however, hit a bit of a plateau over the last three months. Hence, it is time to renew my efforts. Yet again. You can follow my efforts on Steps Along the Trail. My goals have changed a bit. Each day I want to eat well (between 2,000 and 2,200 calories); do 30 minutes of cardio of some sort; and walk for 12,000 steps. I will try to add the stretching exercises my massage therapist wants me to do. I have a couple new wrinkles to provide motivation and jump start this initiative. I have increased my goal for steps. It had been 10,000. I have instituted a reward program for when I meet all three goals for seven days. I have set a goal of running or walking or walking/running a 5K this year. I have signed up to do the virtual 5K to benefit Cutch’s Crew/Pirates Charities. I have set a tentative date of April 11 to do my 5K. I have set up steps challenges with family and friends. Most step wins. In January, the losers will donate $10 to the charity of the winner’s choice. I have resumed using My Fitness Pal to track eating and am using Run Keeper to track my outdoor walking. You can become my friend on either of those if you want to track my progress there. Another wrinkle or two will pop up as the year unfolds. It all starts tomorrow! Wish me luck. And again, feel free to follow. Or not. See you along the Trail.


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Purple-ish (stained glass) flowers, Cleveland Art Museum

20 December 2014
Cleveland Art Museum
Cleveland, Ohio

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Prayer for Christmas

God of life and God of hope,
we give you thanks and praise this night
as we gather to remember the birth of Jesus
who came as a witness to grace,
who proclaimed peace
did justice
lived love
and walked humbly with you.

In his name, we pray for peace and healing
wherever your world is broken,
wherever violence and injustice reign
wherever your children are in pain.
We ask that we might follow Jesus faithfully
and so become answers to our prayers
for peace on earth,
goodwill for all people,
and wholeness and wellbeing for all creation.

Originally written 2009

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To make real that possibility

One hundred years ago
In a war ravaged corner of the world
For a few moments
Short moments
Precious moments
Defiant moments
Sacred moments
Shooting stopped
As guns stood silent,
Warring men
Forced death to take
A brief hiatus as they
Dare to leave the trenches
And enter
No man’s land
Filled with mud and corpses
Wire and blood
And enter
No man’s land
Of peace and
Shared humanity

One hundred years later
We gather to remember,
Sing songs, eat cookies
And though we know the
Undeclared truce failed to hold,
We dare proclaim
Peace is possible
Possible in our cities
Possible in Syria
Possible in South Sudan
Possible in the DRC
Peace is possible
Though violence rages
Though hate shrivels human hearts
Though fear squeezes human souls
We dare proclaim
Peace is possible
And we recommit ourselves
To praying,
To make real that possibility.

24 December 2014
Bells for Peace
Commemorating the Christmas Truce of World War I
Church of the Covenant
Cleveland, Ohio

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On this night we gather

On this night, as we gather,

bellies spasm with hunger
winter seeps into the bones of people with no homes
thoughts turn to Syria, South Sudan and places between and beyond
people plot violence
children watch parents die of AIDS, wondering when their turn will come
relationships fray and come apart
children and women and men endure abuse
economic uncertainty undoes nations and households
walls divide people from their homes
handguns bark and blood flows
racism, sexism, heterosexism, ageism, and more
privilege some and crush life from others
drugs surge through veins to allow escape from reality’s pain
death comes calling — sometimes welcome, sometimes not
sorrow and suffering spread around the world
trouble and turmoil touch us all
evil stalks the earth

in the midst of all that
in the face of all that
in spire of all that
because of all that
on this night,

we gather

to sing and pray;
read ancient words and light candles
as we celebrate again
the birth of a child —
— nothing more and nothing less
than the every day miracle —
except that this child — this Jesus —
tells us
teaches us
shows us
life does not have to be the way it is
but that it can be filled
hope and
faith and
grace and
sharing and
commitment and
community and
justice and
righteousness and
well-being and
wholeness and
peace . . .
. . . on earth . . .
. . . for all!

May it be so.

(originally written for Christmas Eve 2003; adapted annually since)

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Filed under Advent, Antiracism, Current Events, Human Rights

Tommy Sands at Christmas

Many years friends ask about favorite Christmas songs.
I name two every year.
Christmas in the Trenches by John McCutcheon
The Rebel Jesus by Jackson Browne
This year I add, Like the First Time It’s Christmas Time by Northern Ireland’s Tommy Sands.
It is another song that speaks of the hope and possibility and peace of the season.
See you along the Trail.

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Where I will be on Christmas Eve

This year will bring a different type of Christmas Eve. Here’s what is happening:

Soldiers in World War I impulsively laid down their weapons and sang carols together on the battlefield 100 years ago this Christmas Eve, December 24, 1914. In memory of this famous “Christmas Truce,” and in honor of those seeking peace throughout the world, the bells of University Circle’s carillon will join a global musical event by playing the carol best known to English- and German-speaking troops a century ago, “Silent Night,” this Christmas Eve, December 24, 2014, at 7:14 p.m., or 19:14 in military time. The McGaffin Carillon is located at 11205 Euclid Avenue, in the block between Severance Hall and MOCA Cleveland.

All are invited to bundle up and listen to this playing of the carol from the Church of the Covenant lawn and parking area and Case Western Reserve University’s north campus. Members of the Church of the Covenant Choir will lead singing of the carol afterward. From 7:30 to 8 p.m., University Circle Carillonneur George Leggiero will play a recital of other carols mentioned in soldiers’ diaries and letters about the experience. Enjoy cocoa and cookies from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.

This is part of the project “Bells for Peace,” in which carillons throughout Europe, North America, Australia, and elsewhere will play “Silent Night” at 19:14 in their time zones. Leggiero’s 7:30 p.m. recital precedes an 8 p.m. prelude and carol sing and 8:30 p.m. candlelight service at the Church of the Covenant.

The Christmas Truce involved vast portions of the war’s Western Front, including German and Austro-Hungarian troops with British, French, Belgian, and Russian forces. Soldiers on both sides observed an impromtu ceasefire, tentatively emerging from their trenches, singing carols, trading gifts from their care packages, and wishing one another well in the other’s language as best they could, with at least one Christmas day makeshift soccer game documented. Bells for Peace is part of the larger Christmas Truce and Flanders Peace Field Project, whose center is the little city of Messines, Belgium, near where a soccer game took place.

See you along the Trail.

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Heavy, aching, longing heart: Officer Ramos and Officer Liu

The brutal killing of Officer Rafael Ramos and Officer Wenjian Liu of the New York Police Department shocks and angers me.

I grieve for Officer Ramos and Officer Liu. I grieve for their families who encounter empty spaces in their homes and have holes ripped in their hearts. I grieve for the comrades of Officer Ramos and Officer Liu. I grieve for their friends. I grieve for every police officer and every family member who wonder and worry during each shift if they will come home. I give thanks for the service provided by Officer Ramos and Officer Liu, beloved children of God.

Violence, all violence, is unacceptable. It solves nothing. It breeds more violence.

With a heavy heart, I pray for Office Ramos and Office Liu; for their families, their friends, their comrades

With an aching heart, I pray that all people might turn from violence.

With a longing heart, I pray for transformation.

See you along the Trail.


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‘I Can’t Breathe’: Eric Garner’s Last Words Symbolize Our Predicament

Grace Ji-Sun Kim

breatheThis is my latest Huffington Post piece called, “I Can’t Breathe”.  It is co-written with Rev. Jesse Jackson.  Please share.

When Eric Garner was held in a chokehold on Staten Island on July 17, 2014, by New York City police officer Daniel Panteleo, he yelled 11 times, “I can’t breathe.” The medical examiner’s office ruled Garner’s death a

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Purple bottles: guest collection #10

IMAG0038 (800x452)

reshaped bottles,
light up as flowers.

Eric Koenig
17 December
Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens
Richmond, Virginia

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