Tag Archives: cancer

Are you from Pittsburgh?

“Excuse me. Are you from Pittsburgh?” the woman spoke gently.
“Lenore is,” Charles replied.
“We heard you talking about Pittsburgh,” the woman said, gesturing to the radiant, bald, younger woman with whom she shared the table.
Of course they heard us. It’s New York. Restaurants put tables pretty much on top of one another.
Lenore Williams had come from Pittsburgh to New York. She arranged to meet Charles Atkins Jr and me to talk about the Presbyterian Church’s Freedom Rising Initiative to address the impact of racism on African-American men.
We met at the TGIFridays in Penn Station. Charles’ son is playing in one of the New Jersey state basketball championship semifinal games tonight. This location made it easy for him to join us and then to get home for the game.
We talked about the work being done by the Presbytery of Pittsburgh and by the Presbytery of New York City. We explored how the presbyteries might support one another and partner for effetive ministry.
Our conversation touched on the city of Pittsburgh. Lenore lived there almost all her life; Charles had recently been there for a meeting; part of my childhood was spent on Neville Island.
After a fruitful conversation, and when we finished our meal, Charles stood to leave for his son’s basketball game. That’s when the woman stood, took the half step needed to cross the aisle in the restaurant and spoke.
“My daughter Erin goes to school outside Pittsburgh,” she informed us. We smiled at Erin who sat with her back to the wall. It appeared she was returning to Pittsburgh. She had her suitcase with her.
“We heard you praying,” the woman stated. “Erin has cancer. We were wondering. Would you pray with her?”
We would. We did.
Lenore and I stood beside Charles. Erin and her mother stood. We joined hands and prayed.
We prayed for Erin. For healing. For strength. For courage. For grace.
We prayed for Erin’s mother and family. For Erin’s friends. For the medical personnel who care for her.
When we finished, we realized we had blocked the aisle. We moved so others who had waited patiently, at least outwardly, could get by.
A man stepped toward the exit. Our eyes locked for a moment. He must have been allergic to something in the restaurant because moisture rimmed his eyes, a little bit leaking out of one corner.
The restaurant’s host came from the other direction. He had been a tad grumpy when we asked for more napkins. Now a grin stretched from ear to ear. “Thank you,” he said. “That was wonderful. Thank you.”
Erin and her mother thanked us. Hugs were shared, by all save one person. I did smile a lot and shake everyone’s hand.
We are made from dust. And to the dust we will all return. But until we do, moments of grace will find us. Thanks be to God.
Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Food, Friends, Presbytery of New York City

I lit a candle

IMG-8598I lit a candle last night in memory of Ruling Elder Cynthia Bolbach.

The First Presbyterian Church of Whitestone held a service of healing and wholeness (Blue Christmas, sometimes called a Longest Night service) last nights. Participants were invited to light candles to symbolize our prayers. I lit candles for family, friends, pets of friends, and people around the world.

And then I remembered. Six years. Yesterday made it six years since the death of Ruling Elder Cynthia Bolbach. Six years ago, as she was dying, I stood in her honor. Last night I lit a candle in her memory.

Six years The vagaries of time make it feel like yesterday and like a lifetime ago, all in the same moment. The wonder of the Communion of Saints allows me to feel her presence. Thanks be to God.

Ruling Elder Cynthia Bolbach, moderator of the 219th General Assembly (2010) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) died on 12-12-12 in the afternoon. This post was written on that day at a time before I knew of her death. Thanks be to God for her life! Alleluia. Amen.

Here are reflections from friends and colleagues on her life and death.

I did something today I have never done before.

I stood in silence for five minutes.

I am not big on pomp and circumstance and formality. A South African friend once observed that I can be a bit “cheeky” to those in authority. For some reason everyone who has heard that assessment has agreed with it. Go figure.

I stood in silence today for five minutes in honor of Cindy Bolbach.

The tradition in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is to stand when the General Assembly moderator of enters the room. Almost every moderator in my memory has encouraged people not to do so. Most of the time most of them meant it. Yet the tradition persists – in honor of the person and even more so in respect of the office. And while it is not my favorite thing, I take part.

Today, without being asked, without being prompted, I chose to stand in silence for five minutes in honor of Cindy Bolbach – moderator of the 219th General Assembly (2010).

I watched her election from the back of the auditorium in Minneapolis. My son Sean and I leaned against the wall.

A period of questions and answers precedes the voting. Commissioners (the folks with the votes) pose questions and the individuals standing (we’re Presbyterian, we don’t run) respond. The questions deal with theology, issues before the church, and issues in the world.

At one point, a question was posed along the lines of: “What would happen to the church, if you were not elected and one of the other candidates were?”

One by one the candidates offered replies praising the others and noting that the church did not depend on their election. Then Cindy Bolbach stepped to the mike. I do not remember her exact words, but the essence was:

There will be utter chaos.

The Assembly erupted in laughter. Sean turned to me and said, “She just won, didn’t she?”

The Assembly still had to vote. It took several ballots, but  Cindy did win. And I believe her sparkling humor that bristles with wisdom played a key role.

I stood in silence today for five minutes in honor of Cindy Bolbach.

Cindy is a woman of incredible faith, deep love, amazing grace, and an incredible wit. She lives daily her commitment to Christ, to the Church, to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) , to all people, and to God’s world. She mixes simplicity and profound sincerity with a capability to navigate complexity and controversy. I am privileged to know her. The Church (in all its manifestations) is blessed by her presence.

For most of this year, Cindy has struggled against cancer. The struggle cut short her ability to attend events but it never dampened her spirits (at least in public). She wore a fedora to the 220th General Assembly (2012) and she wore it well.

This morning came the news that Cindy has entered hospice care. And I stood for five minutes in her honor.

But in the silence it came to me that another way – a better way – to honor Cindy Bolbach – is to give thanks to God for Cindy – to entrust Cindy to God’s merciful care – to pray for her without ceasing – then to get back about the business of ministry. I am pretty sure that is what she would want. So it is what I have done.

When Cindy returns to the dust, as we all will someday do, I will shed more tears. But I will also proclaim “Alleluia.”

When Cindy returns to the dust, as we all will someday do, there will be utter chaos. But in the chaos there will be love and there will be grace and there will be God. And all will be well for Cindy. And all will be well for us. Alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia.

See you along the Trail.

Leave a comment

Filed under Family, First Presbyterian Church of Whitestone, Friends, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

Purple not flowers, Purple Horse

Purple Horse
by
Carmen G.
from
Houston, Texas
“The horse looks sad and tired, like me, because we are bored.
The hour is tired from running
and I’m tired from being in the hospital for what I have.”

IMG_5407

29 May 2017
Houston International Airport
Houston, Texas

While walking through the Houston International Airport today,
I came across an exhibit of artwork.
The artists are children.
The art is sponsored by the Periwinkle Foundation
which uses art to provide meaningful and healing artistic opportunities
for children and their families
at the Texas Children”s Cancer and Hematology Centers.

Leave a comment

Filed under Photo

The Meaning of Children: Letter to Jonathan

In May, my friend Mihee Kim-Kort is hosting a series on her blog, First Day Walking, that features stories from people in many walks of life and their observations of children and what they make us. All the posts are amazing. Here, my friend Larissa Kwong Abazia, vice-moderator of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) shares part a letter she is writing to her son Jonathan about facing breast cancer. The courage, grace, faith, hope, and love of Jonathan, Dan, and Larissa move and inspire me.

The Meaning of Children

In May FDW is hosting a new series on  stories from people in all walks of life and their observations of children and what they make us. Click here for more on the series and a list of the contributors. This post was written by my wonderful and beautiful friend Larissa Kwong Abazia. So honored to have her here.

I was diagnosed with breast cancer in February 2015. This is a portion of a letter I’ve been writing to my three year old son, Jonathan.

Dear Jonathan,

I’m writing you this letter trusting that I will be around to see your first day of kindergarten, watch you graduate from high school, and be a part of every single step in-between (and after!).  Writing to you during a time that you may or may not remember is important to me. I want you to know how you are an important part of…

View original post 717 more words

Leave a comment

Filed under Family, Friends

Reflections on a life well lived

I am not alone in trying to articulate my deep appreciation for Cynthia – Cindy – Bolbach. Here are some other reflections:

Former GA Moderator Cindy Bolbach Dies at Age 64 by Presbyterian News Service

Advent: What Are We Waiting For? by Theresa Cho

Dear Madame Moderator … by Bruce Reyes-Chow

What I Continue to Learn from Cindy Bolbach: We Hate Cancer by Jan Edmiston

Life Is Fragile by Ruth Everhart

Former GA Moderator Cindy Bolbach Dies at Age 64 by Michael Kruse

Madam Moderator Cynthia Bolbach by Krista Phillips

Advent day 11: Rest in Peace by Derrick L. Weston

Fell Sergeant, Strict in His Arrest by Fr. Mike White, Cindy’s nephew

Cynthia Bolbach, Moderator of the 219th General Assembly, passes away by The Presbyterian Outlook

If you have written something – if you see something – that should be added, please make a comment and I will do so.

See you along the Trail.

1 Comment

Filed under Current Events, Family, Friends

Utter chaos

Five years. The vagaries of time make it feel like yesterday and like a lifetime ago, all in the same moment.

Ruling Elder Cynthia Bolbach, moderator of the 219th General Assembly (2010) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) died on 12-12-12 in the afternoon. This post was written on that day at a time before I knew of her death. Thanks be to God for her life! Alleluia. Amen.

Here are reflections from friends and colleagues on her life and death.

I did something today I have never done before.

I stood in silence for five minutes.

I am not big on pomp and circumstance and formality. A South African friend once observed that I can be a bit “cheeky” to those in authority. For some reason everyone who has heard that assessment has agreed with it. Go figure.

I stood in silence today for five minutes in honor of Cindy Bolbach.

The tradition in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is to stand when the General Assembly moderator of enters the room. Almost every moderator in my memory has encouraged people not to do so. Most of the time most of them meant it. Yet the tradition persists – in honor of the person and even more so in respect of the office. And while it is not my favorite thing, I take part.

Today, without being asked, without being prompted, I chose to stand in silence for five minutes in honor of Cindy Bolbach – moderator of the 219th General Assembly (2010).

I watched her election from the back of the auditorium in Minneapolis. My son Sean and I leaned against the wall.

A period of questions and answers precedes the voting. Commissioners (the folks with the votes) pose questions and the individuals standing (we’re Presbyterian, we don’t run) respond. The questions deal with theology, issues before the church, and issues in the world.

At one point, a question was posed along the lines of: “What would happen to the church, if you were not elected and one of the other candidates were?”

One by one the candidates offered replies praising the others and noting that the church did not depend on their election. Then Cindy Bolbach stepped to the mike. I do not remember her exact words, but the essence was:

There will be utter chaos.

The Assembly erupted in laughter. Sean turned to me and said, “She just won, didn’t she?”

The Assembly still had to vote. But Cindy did win. And I believe her sparkling humor that bristles with wisdom played a key role.

I stood in silence today for five minutes in honor of Cindy Bolbach.

Cindy is a woman of incredible faith, deep love, amazing grace, and an incredible wit. She lives daily her commitment to Christ, to the Church, to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) , to all people, and to God’s world. She mixes simplicity and profound sincerity with a capability to navigate complexity and controversy. I am privileged to know her. The Church (in all its manifestations) is blessed by her presence.

For most of this year, Cindy has struggled against cancer. The struggle cut short her ability to attend events but it never dampened her spirits (at least in public). She wore a fedora to the 220th General Assembly (2012) and she wore it well.

This morning came the news that Cindy has entered hospice care. And I stood for five minutes in her honor.

But in the silence it came to me that another way – a better way – to honor Cindy Bolbach – is to give thanks to God for Cindy – to entrust Cindy to God’s merciful care – to pray for her without ceasing – then to get back about the business of ministry. I am pretty sure that is what she would want. So it is what I have done.

When Cindy returns to the dust, as we all will someday do, I will shed more tears. But I will also proclaim “Alleluia.”

When Cindy returns to the dust, as we all will someday do, there will be utter chaos. But in the chaos there will be love and there will be grace and there will be God. And all will be well for Cindy. And all will be well for us. Alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia.

See you along the Trail.

28 Comments

Filed under Current Events, Family, Friends, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)