Tag Archives: healing

They ride

In the early morning they rise.
People and horses they ride.
They pray and eat.
Riders mount horses
and into the pale light, in prayer
together hey begin to ride.

Through the mist,
they ride.
Through the fog,
they ride.
Through the cold,
they ride.
Through the rain,
they ride.
Through the snow,
they ride.
Through the ice,
they ride.

To remember,
they ride.
To tell the story,
they ride.
To bear witness,
they ride.
To grieve,
they ride.
To heal,
they ride.
To hope,
they ride.

For the 38+2,
they ride.
For justice,
they ride.
For the people,
they ride.
For themselves,
they ride.
For the future,
they ride.
For us all,
they ride.

To Mankato,
traveling  through the past,
inspiring the present,
shaping the future,
they ride.

25 December 2021
North East, Maryland

Learn more about the Dakota 38+2 and the 2021 Memorial Ride.
View Dakota 38, a documentary about the ride for reconciliation and hope.
A Memorial Run from Fort Snelling to Mankato also takes place on December 25-26



Filed under Antiracism, Capital Punishment, Death Penalty, Human Rights, Photo

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.)

Now available: Healing Our Broken Humanity

51cLCp75G0L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_In a world torn by division and conflict, how can we seek peace and reconciliation? In Healing Our Broken Humanity, Grace Ji-Sun Kim and Graham Hill explore Christian practices that can allow individuals and communities was to pursue reconciliation, justice, peace, and love. The book provides theological reflections on nine practices that can help heal our broken humanity. Each chapter includes questions for thought and discussion and suggestions for activities to explore further the ideas presented. Appendices include additional resources for engagement. Kim and Hill have provided a significant, practical resource for the church.

Healing Our Broken Humanity is now available from the publisher or on Amazon. You can also ask your local independent bookstore to order copies as well.

Enjoy this important book!

See you along the Trail.

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Healing Our Broken Humanity

IMG_8004 (1024x768)I’m looking forward to reading Healing Our Broken Humanity, the new book written by my friend Grace Ji-Sun Kim and Graham Hill. It’s currently number two on my reading list.

You can read it too, ordering from the publisher or on Amazon.

Check out this reflection on the book originally posted in Outreach Magazine. And here’s a podcast featuring Grace talking about the book that originally appeared on Spirituality for Ordinary People.

I’ll post more about it as I read.

See you along the Trail.

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Dean Smith, healer

“John, you should never be proud of doing the right thing. You should just do the right thing.”
Dean Smith, quoted in an article by John Feinstein

With North Carolina alumni, college basketball fans, and people around the world, I join in mourning the death of Dean Smith. And I give thanks for his life and witness.

I am not a big fan of basketball. When living in Iowa, I attended the high school games because they played a key role in the life of the community. My wife follows Duke, her alma mater, faithfully; so I follow enough to talk with her intelligently. My sons follow the Cleveland Cavaliers, pretty faithfully; and again, I follow enough to hold my own in conversations.

I recognize Dean Smith’s amazing work as a basketball coach, even if I fail to understand the intricacies of his contributions.

Covenant 08 24 10 Ghost RanchI mourn  Dean Smith, the human being. The child of God. The healer.

Margaret Aymer preached at the Riverside Church today. What I took from her sermon is that Jesus came to bring healing. Healing. Not a cure. Healing of dis-ease. Healing by Jesus involved recovery from physical symptoms, but it also involved restoration to community and renewal for ministry working to transform systems of oppression, violation, and exploitation. Jesus frees, invites, challenges, dares those who would follow him to do likewise.

Dean Smith did. His work on a basketball court is legend. His work as a teacher helped see that his players graduated. His style built lasting relationships with athletes at North Carolina and coaches and athletes and supporters of opposing teams. As my wife posted, “Even though we still sing “to hell with Carolina,” Dean Smith deserves all respect. Condolences from a Blue Devil to all Tar Heels.”

That would have been enough. But there was more. Much, much more.

Dean Smith worked for healing as he challenged the systems that wounded and oppressed his sisters and brothers. He put himself on the line for racial integration and justice in basketball and society beginning when he was a student in high school. He opposed the war in Vietnam and Iraq and supported a nuclear freeze. He supported the rights of the LGBTQ community. And he opposed the death penalty.

As Rick Reilly wrote, twelve years ago:

In a state that gave us Jesse Helms, Smith’s is a rare voice speaking out against the madness of a war in Iraq and the hypocrisy of the death penalty. It’s a spiritual thing for him. “One doesn’t kill,” he once said. “I heard that in church.”

Though he served in the Air Force, Smith was proud to see two of his daughters march in Washington against this war. “This is not a just war,” he contends. “I certainly hope we don’t go. This would be horrible.”

In a state that sends thousands of Marines to the Middle East, that’s a big target to paint on your shirt. But Smith has never scared easily. Speaking out against the death penalty, he once pointed at the governor of North Carolina and declared, “You’re a murderer. And I’m a murderer. The death penalty makes us all murderers.”

Dean Smith was many things. Son. Teammate. Husband. Father. Coach. Teacher. Innovator. Opponent. Friend. I give thanks for all of these.

But mostly, I give thanks that Dean Smith was a healer.

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Capital Punishment, Current Events, Death Penalty, Sports

Dakota 38

Thanks to my friend and colleague Irv Porter who pointed me to Dakota 38, a video about the Dakota Wokiksuye Memorial Ride remembering the 38 Dakota men hung in Mankato after the U.S.-Dakota War and working for healing and reconciliation. Check it out!

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Antiracism, Movie

Purple flowers: Guatemala

My friend Amanda Craft and I worked together for a several years with the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program. She left first, going to Guatemala as a mission co-worker with the IENPG (the National Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Guatemala) in women’s leadership development.

Amanda blogs about her ministry. Her reflection on the recent Lenten season focused on, among other things, the color purple. Acknowledging purple as the liturgical color for Lent, Amanda reflects about purple flowers – purple jacaranda blossoms actually:

The dried flower arrangements that adorn doorways are filled with purple flowers.  Howev450px-BlueJacarandaFlowerser, what I have not noticed before are the purple jacaranda blossoms.   Jacaranda trees are tall and large, and when the flowers are in bloom they pack the limbs as if they are leaves.  The flowers are small and delicate giving off a soft, sweet smell.  Guatemalans respect these seemingly insignificant blossoms for their medicinal properties.  Boiling the flowers in a tea is a natural alternative to calming microbial infections in the digestive system (a common problem in Guatemala).

The irony is not lost on me.  Here is a purple flower that has healing properties enjoying full bloom during a liturgical season focused on healing.  God has such an interesting was of speaking, no?  Jesus’ death is significant since it was a divine act meant to heal the many wrongs, shortcomings, and sins of the world.  I am reminded of this through a tiny tree blossom.  The power to heal does not have to come from something grandiose, but through delicate, small acts that have the capacity to transform.

With Amanda, I challenge myself to notice more small, healing, transforming acts.

The photograph was taken on 17th June 2004 by Stephen Lea in San Luis Obispo. It is found on the Wikimedia Commons under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.

See you along the Trail.

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L is for Labyrinth

For some it serves as a spiritual discipline;

for some it provides nurture;

for some a place of reflection and inspiration.

Some find healing here,

some hope,

some grace.

During the summer of 2011,

the Ghost Ranch Service Corps

filled in holes,

trimmed weeds,

and repaired the path

for the Ghost Ranch


17 July 2011

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Filed under Family, Ghost Ranch Views, Photo