Monthly Archives: March 2020

31 March 2020

Pacing (walking). Core work (gentle) with NK Body Philosophy by FaceTime. Stretching. The Shire.
Transgender Dysphoria Blues – Against Me!
Drone Bomb Me – ANOHNI
I’d Love to Change the World – Shea Diamond
iT – Christine and the Queens
A Girl Called Johnny – The Waterboys
Warrior Heart – Shawnee
Thorn in Your Side – namoli brennet
Body Was Made – Ezra Furman
Girls and Boys – Blur
King for a Day – Green Day
Androgynous – The Replacements
Rebel Rebel – David Bowie
We Exist – Arcade Fire
Eudaemonia – Them Are Us Too
What Is This Thing Called Love – Billy Tipton
I Want It All – Baby (the Playbill 30 Day Song Challenge – thanks Sean)


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Purple flowers, guest collection #107


31 March 2020
New Orleans, Louisiana
photo by the Rev. Kim Rodrigue

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A prayer of thanks

Dear God,

in times when I am frightened,

in days when I am discouraged,

in situations when I am unsettled,

even as I grieve for what is lost,

remind me to seek reasons to say

“thank you.”


31 March 2020

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30 March 2020

Pacing (or walking). The Shire.
Marrow – Ani DiFranco
You Got to Run – Buffy Sainte-Marie & Tanya Tagaq
Cakewalk – Awkwafina
Little David Play on Your Harp – Sweet Honey in the Rock
Taste of Ashes – Laurie Lewis
Tomorrow – Brittany Howard
Crowded Table – The Highwomen
Love Is Light – Yola
These Days – Nico
Aquis Mahasnik Biman – Rasha
Waltzing Matilda – Seona McDowell
Remember My Name – Yuna
Cry for Love – Zendaya
I Am Her – Shea Diamond
Gravelwalk – Eileen Ivers
Hands – Jewel
I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll – Alan Merrill
I’m Here – Cynthia Erivo – The Color Purple (the Playbill 30 Day Song Challenge – thanks Sean)

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29 March 2020

Walking (or pacing – there is a debate as to the right verb) in the Shire.
Old Soul – Highwomen
Walk through Fire – Yola
Someday  – Ruby Ibarra
Daughter of the Deser – Rim Banna
Feel Like a Natural Woman – Carole King
I Am Woman  Helen Reddy
The Weight – Aretha Franklin
Blood and Bones – Our Native World
Closer to Fine – Indigo Girls
Not to Blame – Joni Mitchell
Agolo – Angelique Kidjo
Stay Strong – Kelly Fraser
When a Woman – Shakira
Maybe Angel’s – Sheryl Crow
He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands – Odetta
I Am What I Am – George Hearn from La Cage Aux Folles (the Playbill 30 Day Song Challenge – thanks Sean)

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from another’s past
haunt me.

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Rites of spring


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Candles, Fireworks, Hope

Romans 8:15-25
Candles, Fireworks, Hope
March 29, 2010
First Presbyterian Church of Whitestone
The Rev. W. Mark Koenig

“In hope we were saved. Now who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”

I think a lot about hope these days.

Singer and activist David LaMotte wrote, “These are hard days in so many ways. Much of the time, it seems like the headlines are in competition for the worst news. … Being alive is hard work. Some days, I don’t feel hopeful.”[i]

David wrote those words two years ago. The need to think about hope goes with us always. It presses upon us with urgency in the age of Covid-19.

Be clear. Hope differs from optimism. Dramatically.

Optimism says things will get better; things will work out as we want; things will happen in a way that fits our desires and understandings.

Optimism is important. Envisioning we can do something often plays a critical role in allowing us to succeed.

Hope is not optimism. Writer and politician Vaclav Havel, who resisted the communist rule in Czechoslovakia and worked for a new future for his people said, “Hope is not prognostication. It is an orientation of the spirit.”[ii]

Hope is the conviction that however things turn out, life will make sense and all will be well even when we cannot imagine that will be. Hope lies beyond our selves, beyond our capacities. Hope lies in God.

Hope can be elusive, difficult to experience. A quick look at world events and the lives of people we love underscores that. Covid-19 highlights this reality in a dramatic fashion.

How then do we keep hope alive? How do we sustain hope that the world can be different, that we can be different? That our lives have meaning and purpose? That we can contribute to a more just, loving, peaceful society?

I don’t know that my thoughts and prayers about finding and nurturing hope have led to any absolute answers to those questions that will work for everyone. I have some ideas to share that help me understand and sustain hope. Perhaps they will prove of use to you.

Hope is relational. I cannot hope on my own. Relationships are key to hope. Hope is like lighting candles in the wind.

I had been in New York for a little over three months when the people of southern Sudan went to the polls in January 2011. The northern and southern parts of the country had engaged in violent conflict since before Sudan achieved independence. A peace had been brokered. The treaty provided that the people of the south could vote to remain part of Sudan or to become their own country.

An interfaith community gathered at the Church Center for the United Nations to pray for the people of Sudan as they voted. After prayer and scripture reading and song in the chapel, we went outside to light candles.

Cold and wind and big, wet snowflakes greeted us on the sidewalk along First Avenue. We lit our candles, but we had to work together to keep them lit. We relit each other’s candles when they went out. We used fingers and song sheets to shield the flames.

Lighting candles in the wind is relational. It takes a community. So does hope.

To hope, I need to be connected to God. I need to pray and read Scripture and worship. To hope, I need to be connected to others.

Hope is relational. It is experienced in the grace of God and in the wonder and love others who hope in me, hope for me, and hope with me.

Hope is surprising. I can open myself to hope. I can nurture hope. I cannot command or control hope.

13669846_1180325505322138_3800535346819562182_nSummer 2016. A Brooklyn Cyclones game with members of First Chinese Presbyterian Church. I have no idea of the score but in the eighth inning the end-of-game fireworks went off. We looked at each other in surprise. From the row behind me and about three seats to my left, Will Tsang said, “Work that into a sermon, Mark.” (The photo is from that night and was taken by Doreen Cheung.)

Check that challenge off the list. Hope, like eighth inning fireworks, is surprising.

If a baseball story isn’t convincing enough, here’s a Bible story.

Luke’s Gospel recounts that on the Sunday after Jesus’ death, two of his followers walked to Emmaus. The death of Jesus had crushed their hope.

As they walked, a third person joined them. They did not recognize the person, but we, who read the story now, realize it was the risen Christ. The story reminds us that Christ comes to us as we travel on the Emmaus roads of life, in hospitals resisting Covid-19, in jails and prisons, in nursing homes, at meal programs and homeless shelters, even in our homes today as we use telephones to worship. Wherever we are.

When they reached Emmaus, the followers of Jesus invited the third person to stay and the evening meal. As their guest, they asked the traveler to say grace.

The traveler. Took bread. Blessed it. Broke it. Gave it to them. They recognized him. Hope was reborn. And Jesus left them.

Hope comes in surprising, mysterious, unexpected ways. The moments do not last forever. Sometimes they do not last for long. But the moments may fill us and bless us and sustain us for living.

Hope may surprise us in a word in a sermon or in the lyrics of a song or in a passage of scripture. Hope may break through when we receive a kind word. Or when a family member or friend acts in an unexpected way; when we receive grace or mercy in the place of vengeance and punishment; when we welcome one another as God’s beloved children.

Hope may sprout when we hear of the consistent, persistent courage of first responders and medical personnel; the grace of the people who bag our groceries and who clean hospitals, medical facilities, and other essential places; the commitment of business owners who care for their employees in hard times.

Hope does not come through individuals who suggest that others should be sacrificed for the good of the economy. Hope most certainly comes—most certainly comes when individuals make sacrifices for one another.

A Minnesota state trooper stops a cardiologist for speeding. Instead of a ticket, the trooper gives the doctor some of his own N95 masks. Hope. In Italy, people step out on their balconies to make music for each other. Hope. People who live near a hospital in Vancouver open their windows to clap for the medical and support personnel at shift changes. Hope.

Because God, through Jesus, is the source of hope, we live in hope. We live in hope even when life is painful and challenging and horrifying. Hope is an act of resistance and resurrection. Hope says – let the worst happen, God is not done. God who creates and loves us; God who raises Jesus from death to life; God who pours the Holy Spirit out upon us; God will have the final word. And it will be a word of life and love and grace and hope.

“In hope we were saved. Now who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”


I have been thinking a lot about hope lately.

Like lighting candles in the wind, hope is relational.

Like baseball fireworks before the game ends, hope is surprising.

And rooted in God, hope is real.

Thanks be to God.




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28 March 2020

Pacing in the Shire.
I Heard an Owl – Carrie Newcomer
Rise Up – Andra Day
Presence – Brittany Howard
Como la Flor – Selena
Redesigning Women – The Highwomen
Cosmic Warrior – Lucia Hwong
Lionheart – Demi Lovato
Replay – Zendaya
La vie en rose – Edith Piaf
Us – Ruby Ibarra
One Woman: A Song for UN Women – Many artists
Edge of America – Annie Humphrey
Fight Like a Girl – Kalie Shorr
Love Don’t Cost a Thing – Jennifer Lopez
This Is My Life – Shirley Bassey
The Four Legged Ones – Joanne Shennandoah
Five Zeroes – On the 20th Century (the Playbill 30 Day Song Challenge – thanks Sean)

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27 March 2020

Pacing. Stretching. The Shire.
Revolution – Kirk Franklin & The Family (in memory of Buddy Monahan)
Formation – Beyonce
Play a Love Song – Hikaru Utada
Freedom Train – Sweet Honey in the Rock
The Chain – Shawn Colvin
Take My Hand, Precious Lord – Mahalia Jackson
Waiting for Tonight – Jennifer Lopez
When a Woman – Shakira
Fight for the Rights – Kelly Fraser
State of the World – Janet Jackson
Rock Me on the Water – Annie Humphrey
Electric Lady – Janelle Monae
History Repeats – Brittany Howard
Un Dia Mas – Lya Barrioz
Cama-I – Mary Youngblood
Simple Joys – Pippin (the Playbill 30 Day Song Challenge – thanks Sean)

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