Tag Archives: health

Let your mentors know

10898187_10205565343713833_2358578664913363875_nMy mentor and friend, the Rev. Dr. Otis Turner, is having a heart procedure next week. Please hold Otis, his wife Patsy, their family, and his care team in your prayers. It is a procedure he has had in the past and is reasonably simple. But it is his heart; and he is my dear friend.I remembered that today.

Otis worked for racial justice in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), our country and the world for more years than I can remember. He gave himself in the struggle.

Otis and I met while I served on the staff of the Presbytery of the Western Reserve. He was on General Assembly staff.

He quickly became my mentor and we developed a deep friendship that has placed a significant role in my ministry and my life.

Otis recruited me to work on the Facing Racism: In Search of the Beloved Community paper of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). After the General Assembly adopted the paper, I went to Louisville to work on its implementation. With Otis, and others.

For two good, important, life-shaping (for me at least) years, we worked together.Otis retired for health reasons shortly after I moved to the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program, but our friendship continued.

When he moved to Florida, we would talk on the phone every couple of months.And then, as it so often does, time slipped away. The time between calls grew longer and then extended to years.

Yesterday I spotted Patsy on Facebook. We became virtual friends. I asked about calling Otis. She said he would welcome a call.

When I called, it was as though no time had passed. Oh, he spoke more slowly and deliberately, but I likely did so as well.

We laughed. Tears welled in my eyes at times, and probably in his.

It was a sacred moment. A moment in which I learned of his upcoming surgery.

I have been praying since. I invite you to join me.

And I encourage you to contact one person who has been a mentor to you and let that person know!

Do it for the love of Otis.

See you along the Trail.

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

I need to try again

Communities of accountability have a way of intersecting.

The same people often appear in different communities to which we are accountable. A person may play a key role in one community and stand on the periphery of others. Or a person may hold a key place in several communities.

Make rosters of my communities of accountability and you will find Merdine T. Morris on many of those lists. A few years ago, I described her in these words:

Merdine T. and I have been friends for more than 20 years. Friend really does not do our relationship justice, she is my mentor, teacher, challenger, comforter, disturber of my peace, guide, anchor . . . the list goes on.

Today I add, Merdine T. Morris is practically a one person community of accountability for me.

Three years ago, Merdine T.’s health failed and I reflected on what I thought might be our last visit.

Merdine T. recovered.

On Tuesday, Tricia, Eric and I went to see her. We arrived and told the receptionist we wanted to visit Merdine T. She paused a moment and said, “I don’t think Merdine T. is here.”

She checked a list and informed us that Merdine T. had gone to lunch with a group. On the one hand, this was disappointing. On the other, it was great, good news.

I carry Merdine T. in my heart and head and will always do so. But I give thanks to know that she can get out and around.

And I need to try to see her again before I leave for New York.

See you along the Trail.

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Stay healthy

To everything there is a season.

I have entered a season where my heart hangs heavy and my soul aches for friends who face serious health issues.

In an exchange with one friend, I received the advice, or the challenge, “You better stay healthy.”

I appreciate the sentiment but the reality, as my friend knows, is that I need to get healthy.

For almost two days now, I have tried. I ate well yesterday. I walked on the treadmill last night. I installed a number of health apps to measure food intake, exercise, weight, and other bodily functions, I ate well today.

As I type, I recognize the privileges that I carry: access to good food, access to a gym, access to a smart phone and a computer, financial resources to pay for them, freedom to make use of them, safety to practice them, time to devote to them, and more.

Humbled at having so much, I renew my commitment and head to the gym for a second night.

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Exercise, Friends, New York

Would you be willing to do that?

“I would like to have a prayer service for my son at my house'” she said. Would you be willing to do that?”

I pondered for a few moments, not sure what to say. I have prayed in people’s houses. I have celebrated Communion in people’s houses.

I have visited many people who were shut-in over the years, although probably not as frequently as I should have done. I have visited people where they live at times of death and situations of stress or moments of joy. I have visited to nurture and build relationships.

On all those visits, or at least all that I can remember, I have prayed. With the people I visited, I have prayed. For the people I visited, I have prayed. Sometimes the person I visited prayed for me. Other church members and friends went with me at times. Often I went alone.

“You see six months ago my son received a diagnosis of cancer,” she continued. “He has had treatment and recovered, and I want to give thanks to God. I want a prayer service. Would you be willing to do that?”

The use of the word “service” wondered me. It is one thing to go and pray with someone.  But services of worship, are public in my Reformed understanding. The Session approves celebrating Communion at times and places other than the usual worship time and place; representatives of the congregation usually accompany the celebrant. A private service?

After some quick thought and prayer – she sought an answer now – I decided this would really be the same praying with someone in the place where they live. I would view this as a time of prayer. If she preferred to call it a service, well I could live with that.

“I will,” I replied.

The planning began. We talked a time or two, and we exchanged email. The service morphed and developed. In the end, it became a service of thanksgiving. It would be a time to give thanks for both her sons and to give thanks for the house in which they lived – their home.

She emailed directions. And at the appropriate time late yesterday afternoon, I set out.

As the A-train rattled toward the destination, I wondered what the evening would bring. Would there just be the four of us? If I said a prayer or two would she consider that a service? If she did not, did it matter?

I came off and descended the steps to the sidewalk. There I discovered that my email server had gone down so the email with the directions could not be retrieved. Fortunately, I had the wisdom (or maybe just needed some busy work during the trip) to enter the address in my Google Maps application while on the train. I turned to that and began the short walk  to her house.

Upon arriving, and before entering, I noticed three things. A pile of shoes stood at the top of the stairs – far more shoes than three people would need. Through the window, I could see the shadows of many people. A buzz of conversation, punctuated occasionally by laughter, came through the door.

Her son answered my knock and escorted me in to the living room. People filled the room. Family members. People from church. Any thought of a private service disappeared. This would be a communal time.

As I sat down, two of the men from the church left. The introductions had not ended when they returned with hymnals.

Quickly I reorganized my prayers and shaped a service. I invited the family to pick some hymns. When they had done so, we started.

I gave a call to worship. We sang. We prayed. We gave thanks for life’s blessings and God’s goodness. We gave thanks for her sons. We gave thanks for her house – her home. We remembered and prayed for God’s healing, comfort, and strength for all in need. We passed the peace, reminding one another of God’s love.

The closing hymn for the service – and it truly was a service – was “Let Us Break Bread Together.” And after a benediction, we did.

Outside, behind the house, family, friends, sisters and brothers in Christ enjoyed a meal of Guyanese and Trinidadian foods, supplemented with fried chicken and red velvet cake. Joy moved from table to table. Grace abounded. Thanksgiving bubbled over.

“Would you be willing to do that?” And I am blessed because I said I would.

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Family, Friends, Worship

A good news update

About a month ago, I posted about our Cleveland Heights neighbor Andre. A friend of our older son, Andre had been seriously injured in a one-car accident. Recognizing that I should have done a better job of posting updates, I say with joy today that Andre’s recovery progresses. He will spend a night this weekend in his own apartment to see how he manages.

Thanks to all who have read about Andre – prayed for Andre – thought good thoughts for Andre – or simply had your heart touched by his story.

See you along the Trail.

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