Tag Archives: death

In between

In shock, still processing,
Giving thanks for the life and love and faith and witness of Robina Winbush … for her vision of what the Church could be and her work to help us live into that vision …for her commitment and work for justice.
Grieving with Robina’s family, friends, colleagues in the Office of the General Assembly and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), and ecumenical and interfaith partners.
Grateful to have been Robina’s colleague and to have learned from her and to have been guided and shaped by her.
We come from dust; we return to dust.
And in between … Robina Winbush made such a difference.
Thanks be to God.

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Remembering

I often post a photo of a toast to my father on this day, the anniversary of his death in 1974. This year, I have been digitizing some old family photos. It seems appropriate to post a photo of my father. We were younger then.

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Thanks, Dad. Miss you.

See you along the Trail.

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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.

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

We will remember you

The Rev. Buddy Monahan, my friend and colleague and leader in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), advocate for Native American peoples in and out of the church, seeker of justice, lover of life and the human family, was killed in a car accident on Tuesday, March 27, 2018. I wrote this and posted it on Facebook. As I watched the  live stream of his memorial service today, I realized that I wanted to post this here as well – to make it easier for me to find. The photo was taken at Standing Rock where Buddy, the Rev. Irvin Porter, and Synod Executive Elona-Street Stewart and I visited on behalf of the church. Our colleague Rick Jones took the photo. 

We will remember you, Buddy,
we will remember you:
follower of Jesus
StandingRockseeker of justice
pursuer of peace
breaker of chains
builder of community
child, spouse, father
chaplain, pastor
coach, teacher
youth worker
colleague, mentor, friend
person of faith
beloved child of God.

You loved your family,
cherished your friends,
affirmed Native peoples,
called the Church to repent,
invited Eric Law to Menaul,
traveled to Standing Rock,
challenged power and privilege,
analyzed the Doctrine of Discovery,
disrupted racism, patriarchy, and more.

And suddenly, unexpectedly, tragically,
you are gone. Too young gone. Too soon gone.
Understanding falters.

We grieve.
But above our grief
through our grief
within our grief
we hear faintly,
ever so faintly,
your song now perfectly joined with the Song.

And above our grief
through our grief
within our grief
we give thanks to God
for sharing you for a season
with Dyanna
with Jordyn, Ashdyn, Brandyn
with Menaul School
with Westminster Presbyterian Church
with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
with so many, with us.

And above our grief
through our grief
within our grief
we give thanks that God who made you,
and who journeyed with you
and who loved you
loves you still;
loves us still.

We will remember you, Buddy,
we will remember you.

Written 27 March 2018
Posted 4 April 2018
See you along the Trail.

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And love remains

To the grave from the cradle
we crawl,
we walk,
run, roll, dance,
strut, stagger, and shuffle
until we can move no more
and we are welcomed home
and love remains.

8 March 2018
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

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Filed under Family, Friends, Poem

Always smiles

photo (57)It rolls around again today as it does every year. Anniversaries have a way of doing that.

Some years it almost sneaks up on me and grabs me unaware. As if I could forget. As if I would forget if I could.

Other years, like this year, memories of the day enter my  consciousness well in advance. I have to consult the calendar to verify the date.

The pain has lessened some over the years. The empty, heartache remains.

Forty-two years ago today, my father died. A private pilot, he and another administrator were flying to Harrisburg to advocate for funding for the local school system.

Though they had tickets on a commercial airline, they decided that my father 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 music made well and badly. To tears and a multitude of remembered smiles. For some years there are tears, but always there are smiles.

Goodnight and joy be with you, Dad.

Goodnight and joy be with us all.

See you along the Trail.

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Five years

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. For a number of reasons, it seems worth sharing again and remembering this amazing woman and beloved child of God.

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 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.

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