Monthly Archives: January 2015

Evening conversation

“It’s the economy, stupid.”
– variation of phrase by James Carville

It’s the eating.
– Mark Koenig

“Whatcha gonno do about it?”
– Small Faces

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Exercise, Music

The day draws to a close

The day draws to a close,
yet another day

The day draws to a close,
yet another day
without you.

The day draws to a close,
the pain of friends
who grieve at death,
who mourn for the dying,
touches my grief
and sends my spirit flinching
as when a child
pokes an open wound.

The day draws to a close,
the love of friends
who reach out in kindness,
who share their sorrow,
touches my soul
and sends my spirit soaring
as when a bird
rises to the air.

The day draws to a close,
grief and love mingle;
I think of you and ache.
I think of you and smile.

The Shire
Manhattan, New York
28 January 2015


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Filed under Family, Friends

Smiles remembered after all these years

I know this day well; I never forget it; it invariably sneaks up on me and grabs me unaware; and when I pause for a moment to reflect, I remember why things feel so raw. After all these years. And then I smile.

People have been posting on Facebook about remembering this day because of the Challenger disaster. I remember that. 

But I remember this day for an event that took place twelve years before the Challenger. An event that also claimed the lives of educators.

Forty years ago this day,  on January 28, 1974, William Koenig 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, Bill 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 Bill would fly. The plane went down near Emlenton, Pennsylvania, 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 shattered my heart.

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 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, Dad.

Goodnight and joy be with us all.

See you along the Trail.


Filed under Family, Music

I wait; I remember

This place,
this place of waiting,
looks familiar.
I have been here before.
I have waited
for storms,
some arrived,
some passed by.

Now I find myself
in this place where
I have been before.
for the predicted storm
the epic storm
the record-setting storm.

News reports raise anxiety
in the city,
in the region,
and in me.

As I read,
as I listen,
I remember
that the place where I wait
is warm and snug,
safe, secure.

I remember
sisters and brothers
who will find themselves outside
in whatever storms may come,
who have
no safe place to wait;
no warm place to hunker;
no secure place to ride out the storm’s fury.

I remember
sisters and brothers
who find themselves outside
in whatever storms may come
because they face a choice
between going to work
and losing a job.

I remember
sisters and brothers
who will find themselves outside
in whatever storms may come
as they seek to protect the people
and make passable the streets
and keep the city moving.

I wait and
I remember.

The Shire, Manhattan, New York
25 January 2015
Winter Storm Juno is predicted for 26-27 January.




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Filed under Current Events, New York

Protect church leaders in Colombia

logo1I signed a petition this morning to support Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) partners and denounce the death threats were received on January 11, 2015 by three of the pastoral leaders in our partner church, the Iglesia Presbiteriana de Colombia. Thanks to the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship and Presbyterian World Mission for creating the petition. Thanks to the Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) for sending a letter on behalf of our partners.

You can sign too.

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Current Events, Human Rights, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)


When the moment comes
and we realize that the fault is,
truly in us and not the stars,
we can but work to put right
what we have done wrong
and trust the community
will rally to our side.

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Family, Friends, New York

Live toward the dream

On December 24, 1967, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. entered the pulpit of Ebenezer Baptist Church. Though no one realized it at the time, it would be the last Christmas Eve sermon he would preach. Just over three months later, he would be dead—another prophet murdered by those who believed that killing the dreamer would kill the dream.

His sermon that night echoed the famous words he spoke during the March on Washington. “I still have a dream.” Dr. King identified the “giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism” as the interlocking realities that violate God’s intention and deny the image of God within the human family. His dream pointed to the day when the triplets are overcome and transformed. It contained a vision of racial justice and equality, expressed a vision of poverty overcome and people working and fed, and looked toward the day when peace would reign around the world.

The dream had been tempered since 1963. Indeed, the Rev. King had seen it turn into a nightmare on various occasions and various ways. The bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham claimed the lives of four little girls and scared souls and psyches across the country. The poverty of the African-American community in the midst of America’s prosperity haunted Dr. King. The inability of the country to address effectively that poverty further tested the dream, as did the riots to which people resorted in response to the poverty. The escalating war in Vietnam—a war that consumed lives and resources and placed America on the “wrong side of a world revolution”—was yet another nightmare that challenged the Rev. King.

But after all of that, in spite of all of that, Dr. King affirmed again and again, “I still have a dream.” These are not the words of the false prophets who proclaim peace when it is clear peace is lacking. They are the words of a man who has faced hate and horror, violence and injustice and who refuses to allow them to have the final word. They are the words of a man who sees beyond what is to another reality. He knows the worst, and still he says, “I have a dream.”

How can he say that? He can because in the end, it is not his dream. It is not the Rev. King’s dream. The dream belongs to God. Dr. King is the prophet who has been grasped by God’s vision and who can do no other than to articulate that vision and live that vision.

Listen to how he expresses the dream:

“I still have a dream today that one day war will come to an end, that men will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks, that nations will no longer rise up against nations, neither will they study war any more. I still have a dream today that one day the lamb and the lion will lie down together and [all] will sit under [their] own vine and fig tree and none shall be afraid. I still have a dream today that one day every valley shall be exalted and every mountain and hill will be made low, the rough places will be made smooth and the crooked places straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.”

Grasped by God’s vision, the Rev. King persevered. He stands in that long line of God’s servants who faced the worst life could bring with a full awareness of how bad that worst could be and who continued to follow Jesus Christ, proclaim good news, live for peace, and work for justice.

We can join that number. We too live in troubled, troubling times. We have come a significant way on the journey to racial justice. A long way remains ahead of us.

The deaths of black and brown people at the hands of the police and the failure of the justice system to indict officers lead many to affirm that #BlackLivesMatter. Racism remains embedded in the structures and systems of our society as revealed in much of the rhetoric, and in some cases the behavior, related to the debate over immigration policy. The U.S. imprisons people of color, particularly men, at an alarming rate leading Michelle Alexander to describe this mass incarceration as The New Jim Crow.

Economic disparities persist. The gap between rich and poor is growing. The economic divide between whites and people of color, particularly when measured in terms of wealth, remains wide.

Some thirty armed conflicts are taking place around the world. The United States has troops involved in a number of the conflicts.Groups and individuals turn to terror and violence to enforce their view and to seize resources.  Resources that could provide health care, support schools, rebuild infrastructure, and more are spent on war and making weapons for war.

And still with Martin, we can dream. For the dream was not Martin’s. It is not ours. The dream is God’s. And God’s dream is more real than all the reality we daily experience. God’s dream sustains us. God’s dream challenges us. God’s dream invites us out of ourselves, out of cynicism, out of pain, out of systemic injustice. God’s dream asks us to believe, to follow, and to live toward that “day when there will be peace on earth and good will toward [all]. It will be a glorious day, the morning stars will sing together, and the [children] of God will shout for joy.”

Dream on! And live toward the dream.

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Filed under Antiracism

Ongoing work

“We cannot let the systemic structures of injustice be disguised as ‘fairness,’ ‘process,’ and ‘rules’ that render the cries of the powerless as ‘irrational’ and ‘oversensitive.'”
– Sera Chung, associate for gender and racial justice, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

My thanks to Sera for coordinating a profound service in memory and honor of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., where the participants (and I was one) rededicated ourselves to the ongoing work of racial justice.

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Worship

Martin Luther King Jr. recordings uncovered

The Presbyterian Historical Society recently uncovered several recordings of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Purple flowers, Hampton Inn, Louisville


Even the purple flowers think it is cold.
9 January 2015
Hampton Inn
Louisville, Kentucky

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