Saturday, April 30, 2011

Travelers on the freedom road

The movie of the day was The Vernon Johns Story featuring James Earl Jones. It seemed a good choice given that tomorrow will bring an antiracism training.

Naomi Rose is who told me about this movie. I remember her call. "The Vernon Johns Story is on," she said. "You need to watch it."

And I did. For I had never heard of Vernon Johns - one of the forerunners of the Civil Rights Movement.

A while back, I found a copy in a Half-Price Book store.

It is a painful film about an unjust time. Yet it is a powerful film about the call to challenge injustice and a reminder of and tribute to all those who have done so through the years. That includes Naomi, my mentor and friend. Since we live in days that still know injustice, morphed and reconfigured and newly sprung injustice but injustice all the same, it is an important film as well.

With thanks for Vernon, Naomi, and all who travel the freedom road and invite us to join them - see you along the Trail.


They are scattered across the city, the Permanent Missions of the member states to the United Nations. I am still learning where they are.

Yesterday when my friend David Bowie and I left the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations we heard the chants of a demonstration. As we made our way up 44th Street toward Grand Central, the sound became louder. At the corner of 2nd Avenue, we saw the people - Syrians.

Men and women, old and young, under flying flags they called for justice and peace for their country.

From their courage and faith, hope leached into my heart as we stood and watched for a few moments. I waved and gave the peace sign as we passed by.

This evening David asked why the group had gathered there. Who did they hope to influence? Groups who come to the UN often do so on 1st Avenue - Ralph Bunche Park is a common location. We wondered if maybe they could not get a permit.

And then I looked up the address for the Permanent Mission of Syria. Sure enough - 820 Second Avenue - between 43rd and 44th - right across the street from where the crowd had gathered to make their witness. The people's witness touched me; may their witness and the witness of their sisters and brothers in Syria touch their country's leaders. May peace and justice prevail for Syria and for all peoples.

See you along the Trail.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Not much in this one

Spent Tuesday afternoon through Thursday noon with the Middle East Coordinating Group at Stony Point Center. They were working on a study resource on the Kairos Palestine document.

Got back to the Shire on the Hudson around 1:00 Thursday. Plunged right back into things. Went to First Presbyterian Church of Whitestone where I was reminded what a blessing my calling is.

Friday brought meetings. It also brought my friend David Bowie. We are leading an antiracism event on Sunday in Plainfield, NJ. Over Fritos and Kashi Snack Crackers, we reminisced about the dogs that have touched our lives.

The NFL draft took place. Eric filled me in on what Cleveland did. I tracked the Steelers a bit. One (that would be me in this case) does wonder what will happen with the NFL season.

Tomorrow will be a day to prepare for Sunday and to try to catch up.

See you along the Trail.


though heart be breaking
and eyes leaking
though stomach be churning
and soul be aching
farewell is the best,
the only,
thing to say.

Charley II

Tricia's brother Woody is an artist who specializes in portraits of pets using pastels on suedeboard.

For Christmas we had him do a portrait for each of the guys - one of the best presents we have ever given.

With many fond memories . . . RIP Charley.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Still on the trail

Posts have kind of taken a new direction.

But the Road goes on - "ever on and on" to quote Bilbo or Frodo or Tolkien.

I am at Stony Point Center tonight and will be here again tomorrow.

I've been watching movies now and then as well. Probably the best recent one has been a documentary - For Love of Liberty - about African-Americans and their service in the military. A lot to ponder there.

See you along the Trail.


Every choice
involves a cost.

Each word said
means others go unspoken.

Every yes,
brings many nos.

Every road taken,
leaves others unknown.

Every opportunity seized,
excludes so many possibilities.

Every gain,
brings much loss.

I will never know
what my choices
led me to miss.

I can never measure
if what I did is worth
what went undone.

But sometimes,
I am filled with wonder.


He's grown some. He's a bit bigger now. This was taken long ago - the day he came to live with us.

He is Sean and Eric's dog - their first dog. Eric and Sean picked him thoughtfully and carefully, working so well together. They loved him well. They love him still.

When Sean and Eric left home for work and school, my brother and his family adopted Charley. We met in a park and shared a meal. Then they said, "Come Charley," and he walked off with them and climbed into their car as though he had known them forever. My heart twinged when Charley never looked back and happily went off with Paul and Cindy, Billy, Greg, and Tommy. And well he should have gone - for they love him - he has found a good second home.

Yet he remembers us - always remembers us - always remembers Eric - always remember Sean - always remembers Tricia. You can tell in his eyes and in the excited way he greets us whenever we see him - which is, not as often as we might like, but often.

Now Charley ails. Seriously ails. An older bigger dog (did I mention that he grew and that the picture is from long ago) he faces health challenges. But come what may, he is loved and he is receiving good care and he will receive good care. And I am grateful to my brother and his family.

As I ponder what may be, tears well in my eyes. I bite my bottom lip to hold them back and memories flood over me. A smile dances in my heart and gently crosses my lips - a smile for Charley - for my sons - for my family - for love that never dies.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

It was good today

It was good today . . .

to worship at Good Shepherd-Faith Presbyterian Church
in Korean and in English;

to gather with a "United Nations" of sisters and brothers,
a multicultural, inclusive community;

to hear music ranging from
Oh Happy Day to The Holy City;

to remember Naomi
who presented me the cross I wore to preach,
who lived as a child of resurrection in a world of Good Fridays;

to experience anew the reality
of the Communion of Saints -
those with whom we once share life's journey
go with us as the journey continues;

to watch the flowering of the cross
and to realize, for the first time,
that it denies not
the obscenity of crucifixion
but proclaims that,
affirms that,
though consequences continue and wounds remain,
resurrection follows - new life blooms.

It was good today.


Forgiveness can come too soon.

Forgiveness can come too late.

May I have wisdom to time forgiveness well.

With thanks to Donald Shriver for this observation made in the film
Forgiveness: A Time to Love and a Time to Hate

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Friday, April 22, 2011


did you sleep . . .
could you eat?


Did you wander in a daze,
heart and spirit aching,
events a blurry haze?


Did you shed hot tears,
rage in despair,
struggle with deep fears?

he thirsted
he forgave
he commended his spirit to God
it was finished.

Did you sleep . . .
could you eat?

For campus ministers, thanks be to God

I did a gig on Maundy Thursday evening with Agape House - a Protestant campus ministry at the University of Illinois in Chicago.

Interestingly enough, I had once done a field education placement that was based at Agape House. I worked with the Rev. Gene Powell at what was then called Loop Community College - now Harold Washington Community College.

Memories flooded back. As they roil in my heart and soul, I give thanks for those campus ministers who helped to shape me:

The Rev. Judson McConnell
The Rev. Dave McGown
The Rev. Gene Powell

And I give thanks for those who presently engage in campus ministry - Kurt, Catherine, Jan, John, Jon - and those I forget - and those I do not know.

Thank you for your important work.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Get home safe

It happens almost every night.

I shut off the computer,
turn out the light,
and leave the office.

I walk down the hall to the elevator
and push the call button.

When the cab arrives, I push "1" and head downstairs.

Hector is always there to see me out.

Sometimes we talk about weather or family.
Often we talk sports.
[Conversations got interesting when
my Steelers beat his Jets.]

Then I head for the door,
and I hear Hector's final words:
always the same
always in the same, kind voice:

"Good night, Marko.
Get home safe."

Get home safe.

We live in a world where so many have not a home but
a tent in a refugee camp
a blanket in the back of a car
a cot in a shelter
a mattress in a brothel
a root of a tree
a spot on a subway grate;

a world where so many homes endure unsafe situations:
domestic violence
sex trafficking

In such a world, Hector's words come as
a blessing
a benediction
a prayer that the day may soon dawn . . .
and a challenge that we work for that day . . .
every one has a home
every home is safe
and we all travel there safely.

Get home safe.

May it be so.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Did Micah know?

Micah, did you know -

in order to
love kindness,
do justice,
walk humbly with God,

we have to
face evil unspeakable,
confront horror unfathomable,
carry pain unbearable?


Only by confronting the evil,
however monstrous,
however banal;

only by facing the horror,
however terrifying,
however agonizing;

only by feeling the pain,
however shallow,
however deep;

only by remembering the act,
however shocking,
however shameful;

only by acknowledging the loss,
however great,
however small;

only then
can grace break through.

Forgiveness: A Time to Love and a Time to Hate

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Toy Story 3

As rain drenches the Shire on the Hudson,

Memories of Sean and Eric

wash my spirit

flood my mind

fill my heart.

Sorrow, joy, and pride mix together.


On slender legs,
too slender it almost seems
to support her weight,
she walks.

As sunlight shafts
fail to pierce morning greyness,
she walks.

Through water
among reeds
she walks.

She pauses,
dips to catch a fish.
Breakfast finished,
she walks.

Gracefully striding,
carefully picking her way
among slime-covered tires
that choke the bank,
she walks.

April 16, 2010
Train 7221
New Jersey Transit
North Jersey Coast Line

Friday, April 15, 2011

Getting ready to start again

It's been a while. It's been too long - too long since I have done any writing - too long since I have eaten well - too long since I have walked - too long since I have been to the gym.

That should change. Sometime soon, that should change.

To be continued . . .