Tag Archives: love

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

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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Luke, Merdine T., and love

Luke and Merdine TEach item packed,
was packed with care,
for each was so much more
than a physical object,
each
transcended time and crossed miles
with unbreakable cords
of memory,
connection,
love.

The wooden box came apart
in Eric’s hands.
The pieces, sixteen black and sixteen white,
he nestled securely inside;
then rubber bands bound the box together,
until the hinges can be repaired.
Into a plastic bag,
then into a cushioned bag
went the box.
Eric smiled at me;
I smiled at him,
warmth washing over us both.
As he took the package to car,
I turned to Essie,
“Someday, have him tell you about
Luke and
Merdine T.”
As she agreed,
Essie smiled at me.
I smiled at her,
knowing the love will pass along.

3 July 2017
Cleveland Heights, Ohio

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Filed under Family, Poem

The Cellist of Sarajevo

It was the longest siege of a capital city in modern history, and produced the worst atrocities in Europe since World War II.
Sylvia Poggioli

And everyday he made me wonder
Where did he ever find
The music midst the madness
The courage to be kind
The long forgotten beauty
We thought was blown away
– John McCutcheon
In the Streets of Sarajevo

61ZpqI2PvnL._SS500April 5, 1992 saw the first casualties in what became a 1,425 day siege of Sarajevo during the Bosnian War.

More than 10,000 residents died because of shelling, bombing, the blockade, sniper fire, and other aspects of the siege.

In the midst of the siege, “the madness” to use John McCutcheon’s word, Vedran Smailović, of the Sarajevo Philarmonic Orchestra, played his cello in publuc. He played in ruined buildings, often performing Albinoni’s Adagio in G Minor. He played at funerals during the siege, even though snipers often targeted by snipers.

After mortar fire killed 22 people as the stood in a bread line, Smailović played for 22 straight days in their honor. This part of Smailović’s story has made its way into writings and song. In an article in The Australian, Smailović expands on his experience:

I didn’t play for 22 days, I played all my life in Sarajevo and for the two years of the siege each and every day. They keep saying I played at four in the afternoon, but the explosion was at 10 in the morning and I am not stupid, I wasn’t looking to get shot by snipers so I varied my routine. I never stopped playing music throughout the siege.

Twenty-two days, two years, all his life. The time frame is unimportant. What matters is that Smailović found music and courage and grace and love to make a witness in the face of war and horror.

I give thanks for the Cellist of Sarajevo, and I look for others who, to paraphrase McCutcheon, “do not stand aside … refuse to be defeated … and rage against the tide.”

See you along the Trail.

P.S. After leaving Sarajevo, Vedran Smailović collaborated with Irish singer-songwriter and peace activist Tommy Sands to create an album Sarajevo/Belfast.

P.P.S. I use the image of the CD cover because it is a photo I took of a copy of the CD I own.

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Filed under Current Events, Music

Lent 2017, day 39

lenten-reflections-on-the-confession-of-belhar“Like hurricanes and floods, God’s justice should uproot systems of oppression established by our political, religious, and economic prejudice. It should cleanse the world of all its racial, xenophobic, and gender-based violence. God’s justice should wash through our hearts and minds, like the waters of baptism, reforming us into new creations dedicated to fulfilling the law of love and justice for all people.”
Bertram Johnson
Lenten Reflections on the Confession of Belhar

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.)

Lent 2017, day 31

lenten-reflections-on-the-confession-of-belhar“The Belhar pushes the church, as she confesses, to be present in the lives of others beyond formal gatherings and policy-making engagements. Belhar calls the church to come to know itself, to actually love the neighbor, and set captives free.”
Mark Lomax
Lenten Reflections on the Confession of Belhar

God help me, help the church, love our neighbors and free captives. Guide our actions.

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