Tag Archives: children

Waving

Using my brand new Reduced Fare Subway Card, I boarded the 1 Train at South Ferry.

Three stops later, a group of children participating in a summer enrichment program entered the car I was riding. Young adult chaperones boarded with them. The volume in the car increased dramatically.

At the next couple stops, I noticed some of the older folks slipping off the train. Had it reached their stop? Or were they retreating from the chaos and noise?

At the third stop (sixth total), the process repeated. Another group of children participating in the same summer enrichment program entered, along with some young adult chaperones. Older folks left.

By the time we reached my stop, there were probably 50 children, 12 young adult chaperones, and maybe 3 of us who were not part of the group.

On my way out I said in a loud voice (I may be old but I’ve still got it) that brought silence to the car: “Children, you are wonderful. Thank you for allowing me to share your ride.”

After a beat I said, “You young adults who are working with the children, thank you for the work you are doing.”

Many little hands waved at me as the train pulled past me.

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11 Dec #Grow #AdventWord 2018

11 Dec #Grow

It’s the house where it happened; the home where they grew.
Sean was two when we moved in;
it is the only place Eric lived until he went to college.
This was taken on the day we scattered.
We still own the home atlthough none of us live there any more..
Tricia is in Louisville.
Sean and I are in diferent parts of Manhattan.
Eric and Essie are in Ann Arbor.

 

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10 Dec #Cry #AdventWord 2018

10 Dec #growThe Advent devotional project, #AdventWord  is offered by the Society of St John the Evangelist. Each day a word is provided and participants are invited to share images and/or reflections and to use hashtags so our reflections may be included in an Advent Calendar with others from around the world.

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Trust

A friend and I drove up to an ATM. I was in the driver’s seat.I asked if she wanted me to back up and allow her to walk up to the machine. She handed me her card and gave me her PIN number.

“I trust you with my child,” she said. “I am certainly going to trust you with my PIN.”

To all my friends, most recently the parents of Ms. E, who have shown me that trust – you have my thanks.

IMG_1670[1]

15 April 2016
Washington, DC
photo by Shannan Vance-Ocampo

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The Meaning of Children: Later

My friend Mihee Kim-Kort is hosting a series on her First Day Walking blog that features stories from people in all walks of life and their observations of children and what they make us. Today she honored me by allowing me to share some reflections. Hope I didn’t embarrass anyone. Also, a big shout out to Mihee for calling me “seasoned” as she promoted the post on Twitter.

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 friend and colleague Mark Koenig.

Every parent-child relationship is unique. As is every child-parent relationship. And every relationship between or among siblings. And every relationship within the web of family by choice and family by birth.

Affirming that, my words are descriptive, struggling to capture my unique reality. They neither prescribe nor proscribe. If they resonate with anyone else, provide insight or guidance, that’s grace.

I write as the father of two men. My older son is 32; my younger son 27. My sons, at this and every age. My children. Looking back across the years, I find a number of dimensions of meaning in…

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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…

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On my heart and mind: children

Child soldiersA while back, I posted a sermon about children. Grieving the many places where children endure unimaginable violation, it affirms our call to care for children:

In this place, I am reminded that God is at work in all places. And that sustains and challenges me to look for how God is at work and, as the Holy Spirit gives me grace, to join in that work.

Children have been in my heart and on my mind this week.

Faith in God in Christ have put them there.

And in this place, God invites us all to join in caring for the children. The children of this congregation. The children of this community. All the children, all God’s children of the world. May we hear and respond.

Today, my friend Laura Mariko Cheifetz posted a reflection on children “Children Aren’t Disposable“. She reaches a similar conclusion:

I think children matter. I think everyone’s child matters. I do not believe that parents or communities or even children need to be virtuous or free of fault in order to think their children and perhaps even their parents deserve protection and generosity. You can make all the bad decisions you want, but I still believe you and your children deserve life. I extrapolated this from the lesson my parents drummed into me: You do not have to earn grace. It has already been given.

Children matter. Their families matter. Grace has already been given. Let’s act like it.

And she does a better job of lifting up ways to act:

Support the Children’s Defense Fund. They do great work at a policy level.

Read Toxic Charity. Consider changing your mission to be less charity and offers more agency to people. Bulk discounts (for your Sunday school or book group) are available. http://www.thethoughtfulchristian.com/Products/9780062076212/toxic-charity–paperback-edition.aspx

Write letters to migrant children. http://www.groundswell-mvmt.org/faithshare/people-are-writing-letters-to-the-migrant-children-and-they-are-beautiful/

Advocate for immigration reform that will allow people dignity and a path to regularization. Congress has recessed for August, so there isn’t legislation to advocate for. But you can still leave a message with your U.S. and state congresspeople urging them to support meaningful immigration reform and humane immigration processes, particularly for children and their parents who may be eligible for asylum, rather than increased criminalization and security measures. TheThoughtfulChristian.com has many books and downloadable studies to help you and your church talk about immigration and take action.

Oppose zero-tolerance policies in schools, stop and frisk public policing, and other ways that disproportionately criminalize black and brown youth.

You may give to UNICEF and UNRWA, who work with children in Gaza and the occupied territories. You can also ask your congresspeople to reconsider our typical military aid package to the nation of Israel. You could work with local peace organizations to advocate for an end to the blockade and the occupation.

Children matter. Join in caring for them.

See you along the Trail.

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In This Place

This is the manuscript I took into the pulpit at Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church today. The preached sermon varied from the manuscript in some instances as the preaching event took place.

People often ask if I miss serving as a pastor in a congregation. I reply that I miss the community, the shared life. But I feel called to my work at the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations. I make mistakes; challenges and frustrations arise, but I believe I am where God has called me.

And then come those Sundays when I have the privilege to take part in the sacrament of baptism. And in the joy and wonder of the moment, I feel a tug to parish ministry.

Because I knew I would have that privilege this morning, I have spent a great deal of time thinking about children. Of course along with the filled expectation of the sacrament, this week has also brought tragedy and sorrow and hope.

Children have been in my heart and on my mind this week.

Israeli children who listen for sirens and take refugee in bomb shelters.
Palestinian children killed upon a beach, under the crushing weight of collapsed homes, on the streets of Gaza.
Israeli and Palestinian children bound together in the violent spiral, not of their making, of occupation and resistance.

Children have been in my heart and on my mind this week.

Nigerian girls abducted from schools and homes, wrenched from their families, held by a rebel group.
Children of Sudan’s Nuba Mountains who huddle in caves as bombs dropped by the government rain around them.
South Sudanese children whose stomachs knot from hunger and malnutrition that threaten their lives.
Syrian children caught in a chaotic cross fire.

Children have been in my heart and on my mind this week.

Children forced to carry guns larger than they are tall in combat.
Children who breathe air-filled with dust and sometimes toxic gases in mines for gold.
Children used, violated, and exploited.

Children have been in my heart and on my mind this week.

Children fleeing rape and gang recruitment and violence in Honduras, El Salvador, and parts of Guatemala who make their way to the United States to be placed in detention centers where they may experience cramped cells without enough food, beds, toilets or showers.

Children have been in my heart and on my mind this week.

Children who lost a parent when a plane went down over the eastern Ukraine.
Children with AIDS or whose parents have AIDS whose lives will be affected by the loss of the researchers and scientists on that plane.

Children have been in my heart and on my mind this week.

Children in our country whose lives are constricted and diminished by racism.
Children bullied because of their sexual orientation.
Children who know violence in their homes, their schools, and their communities.

Children have been in my heart and on my mind this week.

New babies, long-awaited, welcomed, cherished.
Children who receive encouragement, affection, support, and nurture.
Children who enjoy life, bring delight to friends, and share love with family members.

Children have been in my heart and on my mind this week.

And I have wept.
Sweet tears of joy and grace.
Hot, bitter tears of grief and pain and anger.
Purging, cleansing tears that have renewed my commitment.

And I have prayed.
For the circumstances that wound children.
For the children. By name when possible.

Prayer opens me to God.

Prayer also opens me to the children and circumstances for which I pray. It binds me to the children be they in Damascus or Detroit. It calls me to commit to act on behalf of the children for whom I pray.

Prayer makes and nurtures the relationships, key to pursuing justice. And prayer for justice and wholeness in one setting draws me out of myself to experience anew the connections between all forms of injustice. It reminds me of the interdependence of people and life. It transforms me as it leads me to pray—and then act—more broadly than I would have otherwise done.

Children have been in my heart and on my mind this week.

And I have advocated with government officials and others who are in positions to act to reshape realities for children.
And I have made contributions to groups caring for children in the United States and abroad.
And I have invited and challenged my family and friends to learn and pray and act.

Children have been in my heart and on my mind this week.

And I have come to this place, this sanctuary, this congregation.

I come to stand in community. For community is essential to confront the realities of the world. Only together can we stand against the forces that violate children; alone we cannot stand.

I come to sing songs, break bread, share the cup.

I come to celebrate with a family as they present their children for baptism. Affirming their faith in Jesus Christ in a world broken, fearful, and frightening. Proclaiming hope. Sharing love.

I come to remember the grace of God in Jesus Christ. In ways that may surprise us, frighten us, awe us, God is at work. Here. Now. In this community.

When I experience the presence of God, I join Jacob in his affirmation of wonder and faith: “Surely God is in this place — and I did not know it!”

And knowing that God is in this place, reminds me, fills me with hope that God in Jesus Christ is in all places. Even in places where heartache and horror seem strong; even in places where violations occur; even in places where people and relationships are most badly broken and fear and wrong seems strongest, God is at work.

In this place, I am reminded that God is at work in all places. And that sustains and challenges me to look for how God is at work and, as the Holy Spirit gives me grace, to join in that work.

Children have been in my heart and on my mind this week.

Faith in God in Christ have put them there.

And in this place, God invites us all to join in caring for the children. The children of this congregation. The children of this community. All the children, all God’s children of the world. May we hear and respond.

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Walk for the children of Gaza

UNRWAOn Saturday, May 17, UNRWA USA will sponsor the 3rd Annual Gaza Solidarity 5k Walk/Run to benefit the children of Gaza in Rock Creek Park in Washington, DC.

The proceeds from this event will benefit UNRWA’s psycho-social support program for children in Gaza suffering from psychological trauma and PTSD due to the devastating November 2012 violence and the prolonged blockade. Since November, reported cases of PTSD have risen by more than 100%. 42% of those cases are children under the age of nine.

There are several ways to participate.

  • If you are in Washington, DC, you can walk or run.
  • You can contribute to the cause.
  • Join the conversation on social media by using #Gaza5K in your posts and tweets!
  • If you are in New York, you can join me in walking 5k in Central Park. I will start from Columbus Circle at 10:00 AM. Let me know or meet me there.
  • You can walk wherever you are.
  • You can pray.

Together we can make a difference for the children of Gaza.

American Friends of UNRWA is an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit that supports the humanitarian and human development work of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees through fundraising, advocacy, and outreach. UNRWA USA aims to educate the general American public about the situation of Palestinian refugees and generate support for UNRWA’s work in Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan.

See you along the Trail.

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When ten minutes equals a day

How often do you use your smartphone during the day? How long passes between each usage? If you are like me, you may not know.

Over the past ten days or so, I have become a bit more aware of my phone usage as I have participated in the UNICEF Tap Project. This project invites us to go without your phone to help children in need of clean water.

For every ten minutes you don’t touch your phone, UNICEF Tap Project donors and sponsors can fund one day of clean water for a child in need.* It’s that simple.

Here’s how to take part:

  1. Visit uniceftapproject.org on your phone.
  2. Begin the challenge right away to see how long you can go without your phone.
  3. The application will tell you how long you have done so and how many days of water the donors and sponsors will fund.

Of course this is not the most efficient way to provide water for children. The donors and sponsors could and should simply provide the funds directly. I could and should make a direct contribution.

I know that. But I take part anyway. The act of not using my phone serves to remind me of my brothers and sisters who live day after day after day without access to necessities.

I make no comparison. Not using my phone is a choice about a luxury. As UNICEF notes when it comes to water:

No one can survive without water, and yet 768 million people around the world do not have safe, clean water to drink. 2.5 billion people don’t have access to a proper toilet.

It isn’t just inconvenient – it’s lethal.

Every day, 1,400 children die from diseases directly linked to unsafe water or a lack of basic sanitation facilities.

The UNICEF Tap Project helps me remember. It challenges me to act with compassion and to seek justice so that water will roll down for all.

Here’s some more details on the project:

UNICEF works in more than 100 countries to improve access to safe water and sanitation facilities. Whether by restoring access to clean water after a disaster or promoting safe hygiene practices in schools and communities, UNICEF is on the ground helping children in need.

What is the UNICEF Tap Project?

The UNICEF Tap Project is a nationwide campaign that provides clean water and adequate sanitation to children around the world.

With just $5, UNICEF can give one child safe drinking water for 200 days.

Since 1990, more than 2.1 billion people have gained access to clean drinking water thanks to the work of UNICEF and its partners.

Founding Agency Partner Droga5 and Media Sponsor MediaVest are supporting the UNICEF Tap Project once again this year. The project is also supported by:

National Sponsor

Giorgio Armani Fragrances
For the fifth year, Giorgio Armani Fragrances returns as national sponsor of the UNICEF Tap Project through its Acqua for Life campaign. Read more.

National Media Sponsor

MediaVest
Since 2008, MediaVest has been a proud supporter of the UNICEF Tap Project, producing a national pro bono media campaign to build awareness throughout the month of March. Read more.

Premier Supporter

UNICEF’s Next Generation
A diverse group of young professionals with a shared commitment to UNICEF’s future, UNICEF’s Next Generation joins the UNICEF Tap Project as time sponsor this year.

*Subject to the pledged limits from our generous donors and sponsors. See uniceftapproject.org/legal for more information. Standard data rates will apply.

See you along the Trail

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