Tag Archives: inclusion

Never forgotten

We, or at least I, often never know the impact we, I, have on one another. Sometimes all it takes is showing simple kindness and decency.

She moved across the hall, clearly intent on talking to me before the meeting began. Although it had been years, I recognized her. She had taken part in a group working on prison-related issues. I had been the staff to the group. I recognized her. But I could not recall her name.

“Do you remember me?” she asked before we had a chance to shake hands.

I answered truthfully. “I do. But I am sorry, I don’t recall your name.” I took her hand.

She smiled and told me her name. I smiled back.

“I will never forget you,” she said.

I shifted my weight, a tad uncomfortable.

“I came to you with my husband in prison. In prison for murder. Murder he had done.”

I shook my head in agreement.

“I asked if I would be welcome at the group you were with. That group working on prisons and prisoners. I was nervous, so nervous, because my husband was guilty. I felt alone, so alone. I could not find a place to talk about my husband and what he faced. Not in my church. Not in my community. I was desperate for support. I thought that group might be a place. But I was scared. Scared they would not want me either. But I was more scared of being alone. I finally got up my courage and asked you.”

“I remember,” I replied. Somehow my throat had become dry all of a sudden.

Tears pooled in her eyes.

“And do you remember what you said?”

She did not give me a chance even to nod. “You did not hesitate. You said, ‘Of course you would be welcome.’ And then you said, ‘If anyone has a problem with me being there you would speak with them.'”

“I did,” somehow I scratched the words out. Her tears flowed freely.

“It turned out that no one had a problem. I found a place I could tell my story freely and where people accepted me and loved me. I found a family in that group. They stood by me and they stood with me when my husband died in prison. They were wonderful. But none of that would have happened without you. None of that would have happened without your kindness to me. I will never forget you. God bless you”

The dryness of my throat was exceeded only by the wetness of my cheeks. And since words would not come, I did what I rarely do, I opened my arms and offered a hug.

And we hugged and wept together for a holy moment.

When I regained control of my voice I said, “Thank you for telling me. I am sorry about your husband’s death.”

“He was a good man. He had his flaws. And one big one. But I did love him.”

I smiled. “I knew that every time you talked about him.”

She scuffed the floor a bit. “When I saw you tonight, I had to tell you. I will never forget you.” We shook hands, smiled, and went our separate ways.

I have never seen her since that night.

But I have never forgotten her.

See you along the trail.

 

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Cleveland Heights, Friends

Embracing the Other – the book is here

My copy of Embracing the Other, written by my friend Grace Ji-Sun Kim, arrived. I look forward to reading Grace’s reflections on how the Holy Spirit inspires and sustains us to work toward healing, reconciliation, and justice among all people, regardless of race or gender. You can too!

Kim_Embracing the Other_cov_9780802872999

See you along the Trail.

Leave a comment

Filed under Antiracism, Books, Friends

Embracing the Other: Podcast “Love in a Dangerous Time”

My friend Grace Ji-Sun Kim explores the themes of her book, Embracing the Other, in a podcast with Russ Jennings of “Love in a Dangerous Time“

Grace Ji-Sun Kim

Kim_Embracing the Other_cov_9780802872999This is my new Podcast Interview about my new book, “Embracing the Other“. 

It is for Russ Jennings’ Podcast, “Love in a Dangerous Time“. Please listen to all the other interesting podcasts on Jennings’ site.

View original post 344 more words

Leave a comment

Filed under Antiracism, Books, Friends

New Book: Embracing the Other

My friend Grace Ji-Sun Kim has a new book, Embracing the Other. I look forward to reading her reflections on how the Holy Spirit inspires and sustains us to work toward healing, reconciliation, and justice among all people, regardless of race or gender.

Grace Ji-Sun Kim

Kim_Embracing the Other_cov_9780802872999Embracing the Other: The Transformative Spirit of Love will be released this Fall 2015 by Eerdmans.

 It is book for the Prophetic Christianity Series.  Co-editors Peter Goodwin Heltzel, Bruce Ellis Benson, Malinda Elizabeth Berry.

View original post 632 more words

Leave a comment

Filed under Antiracism, Books, Friends

Standing and sitting in the rain for justice

My friend Tim Luttermoser wrote this. He granted permission to post his words and photo.

TimHey Francis,

The past few days on campus, a conservative preacher (Tom the Preacher, you can google him) has been on campus doing… well, the typical conservative preacher things. But with larger displays and more professionally, unfortunately. Over the last two days I designed a poster (you can see it, sort of, in my profile picture) of welcoming congregations in the area, including Episcopals, Lutherans, Methodists, Presbyterians (I’m happy to say), UUs, and a Reform Judaism temple, and today I stood across the way from their display for several hours, providing people with an alternative perspective and reminding them that this wasn’t the only face of Christianity or religion in general. I’m happy to say that, for the most part, Tom and Grace Campus Ministry (which invited him to campus) left me alone when I made it clear I was not interested in engaging.

I’m telling you all this because, if you have a minute on Sunday, I’d like you to pass along my thanks to Noble Road Presbyterian Church for me. I can say with confidence that being raised in that particular community has shaped me into who I am today, and I am grateful for the influence. Even as I’ve personally moved on to other religious and spiritual traditions, I always remember the loving and welcoming community of Noble Road, and when faced with hatred and bigotry, I can always draw on my history there and be reminded that there are wonderful religious communities with better approaches. Noble Road did a fantastic job modeling not only acceptance of LGBTQ people, but actively fighting for them, particularly within the religious community, a fight I still consider absolutely essential. While I’m fairly confident I would be supportive of LGBTQ people regardless of where I grew up, I know that growing up in NRPC specifically was what gave me the energy and the passion to contact these congregations, create this display, and stand through the two brief rainstorms to keep making my point all afternoon.

Thank you for all you have done and continue to do, both you in particular and NRPC as a whole.

Mark Koenig and Tricia Dykers Koenig – this thanks LARGELY goes to you as well, don’t forget.

Francis Miller, to whom Tim wrote, is currently the pastor at Noble Road Presbyterian Church. Tim lived in South Euclid and attended the church before he went to school. Tricia and I were co-pastors there at the time.

See you along the Trail.

Leave a comment

Filed under Friends, Human Rights