Tag Archives: joy

I saw joy

I was feeling grumpy.

OK, I was feeling grumpy-er. Always play to one’s strengths.

IMG-6692I was walking down Fifth Avenue, heading to Rockefeller Center.

Visitors to New York filled the sidewalk. They stopped in the middle and made quick turns. They abruptly countermarched, heading back uptown without warning.

My blood pressure rose. My ire increased. And then I saw her.

She sat in a wheel chair, looking at the lights and the sights.

I do not know her name and never learned her story. It was inappropriate to ask. But I wondered.

Was this her first time in New York – the culmination of a long-time dream?

Was she a long-time city resident?

Was this an annual visit?

In the end, the reason mattered not. All that mattered was her face.

She glowed. Amazement. Wonder. Delight. Many words could describe her face and bearing. But the one that works best for me, is joy. Simple joy. Pure joy. Unabashed joy. I have not seen such joy often, but I have seen it enough that I recognize it when I do.

I saw joy that day and I carried it in my heart to Rockefeller Center. I hope it showed, just a little, on my face.

See you along the trail.

P.S. – the photo was taken inside the Time Warner Center on the same day. I did not get any photos at Rockefeller Center. I will be back.


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Filed under Advent, New York, Photo

Lent 2017, day 10

lenten-reflections-on-the-confession-of-belhar“God hopes we don’t approach the gift of our unity out of begrudging obligation, but that by God’s grace, we will embody our unity from a spiritual posture of joy and awe, amazed at how wonderfully God has made us one.”
Shannon Johnson Kershner
Lenten Reflections on the Confession of Belhar

May awe
and amazement
give rise to

This Lenten season I am using a new resource to explore the Belhar Confession: Lenten Reflections on the Confession of Belhar, edited by Kerri N. Allen and Donald K. McKim. The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), in which I serve as a teaching elder (pastor), added the Confession of Belhar to our Book of Confessions in 2016. This confession came from the Dutch Reformed Mission Church during its historic struggle against apartheid in South Africa.

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Antiracism, Books, Lent, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

Smiles remembered after all these years

I know this day well; I never forget it; it invariably sneaks up on me and grabs me unaware; and when I pause for a moment to reflect, I remember why things feel so raw. After all these years. And then I smile.

People have been posting on Facebook about remembering this day because of the Challenger disaster. I remember that. 

But I remember this day for an event that took place twelve years before the Challenger. An event that also claimed the lives of educators.

Forty years ago this day,  on January 28, 1974, William Koenig climbed into a small plane with another educator from Grove City. They planned a trip to Harrisburg, the state capitol, where they were to advocate for funds for the Grove City Public School system. At the time of his death, Bill worked as the assistant superintendent for the Grove City Public School system. But he was a musician. He played string bass in the pit orchestra for the high school musicals. He directed the town band. He was a tennis player. He was a photographer. He was also a private pilot. Though they had tickets on a commercial airline, the two colleagues decided Bill 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 all I learned. To laughter and tears. To music made well and badly. To a multitude of remembered smiles.

Goodnight and joy be with you, Dad.

Goodnight and joy be with us all.

See you along the Trail.


Filed under Family, Music


sorrow storms the
bastions of his heart,
extinguishing joy,
expelling love,
crushing hope,
firmly establishing
for itself

7 November 2014
Louisville, KY


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Filed under Louisville

Merry? Christmas

I woke up this morning with “Merry Christmas” on my mind. I have said and written and read the words many times through the years. Lately, I have found myself wondering whether “merry” conveys enough meaning for the day we celebrate the birth of Jesus. I turned to the online Oxford Dictionaries to learn more about the word. While I will probably do some further research, here’s what I found:


Syllabification: (mer·ry)
Pronunciation: /ˈmerē/

adjective (merrier, merriest)

  • cheerful and lively: the narrow streets were dense with merry throngs of students; a merry grin
  • (of an occasion or season) characterized by festivity and rejoicing: he wished me a merry Christmas
  • British informal slightly and good-humoredly drunk: after the third bottle of beer he began to feel quite merry

Lion and lambLively works. It points to the life, the new life, the full and abundant life, that breaks into the world at Christmas.

Rejoicing works. The birth of Jesus brings great joy. Festivity? Christmas is a festival of the church. Festivity picks up on the dimensions of joy.

The third definition, not so much. It does bring the story of the first Pentecost to mind. It’s not completely out of the

Merry Christmas, wishing life and joy works. But I wonder if there might be other ways to express the greetings of the day and season that plumb more meanings and point to other dimensions:

  • Christmas blessings
  • Blessed Christmas
  • May the joy, hope, peace, and love of Christmas be yours
  • May justice roll at Christmas
  • Peaceful Christmas
  • Peace-filled Christmas
  • Hopeful Christmas
  • Hope-filled Christmas
  • Christmas grace
  • Grace-filled Christmas
  • Christmas memories
  • Remember at Christmas
  • Gracious Christmas
  • Healing Christmas
  • Expectant Christmas
  • May you know the comfort of Christmas
  • May you know the discomfort of Christmas
  • Faith-filled Christmas
  • Faithful Christmas
  • Holy Christmas
  • Happy Christmas

I will still use Merry Christmas, but I want to try to expand the greetings I share at Christmas. Brian Wren reminds us of the need to Bring many names, beautiful and good to express the wonder and mystery and majesty of God. We need something similar to capture the depth of Christmas’ meaning.

What words and images would you add?

See you along the Trail.

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Of such is life


I purchased a ticket to go to Korea;
the church there has invited me to come
and speak about engagement in the
public arena.

My heart broke for women who
endure a culture of rape and violence;
for children who cry to sleep
with nothing to eat;
for peoples whose countries are
torn by war;
for sisters and brothers I do not know
who are violated in ways I
cannot imagine.

I raised a glass in memory of my father
who died 39 years ago
this day.

I spent significant time doing laundry and
washing dishes.


Of such is life.

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under New York, Travel


Roja and Joel invited me.

The Presbytery of New York City vouched for me.

The Presbyterian Church of Ireland processed the paperwork for me.

The Republic of Ireland granted permission to me.

Thus it came to pass, on 28 April 2012, the immense pleasure of solemnising the wedding of Joel and Roja came to me.

And our mutual friend Joe photographed Roja and Joel …

… and me.

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Friends, Ireland, Photo