Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A home


It is reported that, 
upon being named the coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers,
Chuck Noll was asked why he thought he could
reverse the team's losing ways.

Noll responded calmly 
and carefully that losing
or winning
is not a matter of geography.

Home is as much a state of being,
a feeling of belonging
as it is a place, a geographical location.
The Trail is home.

But there are places that serve as home to us.
Because of who is there or who has been there,
because of what we have experienced there,
they have a hold on us; they are home.

Sometimes the trail Trail leads to such places;
sometimes the Trail leads home.
Or at least to one
of several homes.

17 June 2010
The Shire near the Ohio
Louisville, KY

Encounter at 72nd

The train jerked to as stop as it
entered the 72nd Street station.
He prepared to stand,
our eyes met for a New York instant.
I smiled reflexively,
he looked back perplexedly.
Averting his eyes,
he gripped the pole,
pulled himself to his feet,
and left the car.

31 August 2011
Shire on the Hudson

Saturday, August 27, 2011


A search for "Storm" in the song title brought the following playlist on my iPod. Clearly the timing on some of them makes a difference to a true playlist. This is simply an alphabetical list.

After the Storm - Bill Miller
The Great Storm Is Over - John McCutcheon
The Lightning Storm - Flogging Molly
Orphan of the Storm - Black 47
Riders on the Storm - The Doors
Shelter from the Storm - Bob Dylan
Singer in the Storm - Holly Near
A Storm Is Coming - The Return of the King
Storms in Africa - Enya
Weather out the Storm - Figgy Duff

See you along the Trail

Privileged waiting

Irene approaches.
Tropical storm?
Irene approaches.

I prepare.
Purchase supplies
Straighten the apartment.
Move and position items.
I prepare.

I wait.
Contacting family and friends.
Tweeting, posting.
Pacing, writing.
I wait.

And the waiting reminds
of the privileges that are mine.

I could have left,
friends would host me,
I chose to stay.

Unlike some whose circumstances
limit their choices,
options were mine.

Unlike some whose choice
was taken away:
New York has not
abandoned me,
devalued me
left me behind
on a landfill-created island
because of what I have done,
what I have been accused of doing,
or where I work,
options were mine.

I chose to stay.

I have a place, a solid place,
a roof above,
walls around;
I have funds to buy supplies;
water, flashlights, candles,
food that needs no cooking.

I have so much,
and others have but little,
still others none at all.

I wait.
And the waiting reminds me
of the privileges that are mine.

I wait.
And I wonder,
after the waiting,
what I will do differently
with the privileges that are mine?

27 August 2011
Shire on the Hudson

I have a plan

If the power goes off, it is always good to have a plan to know that the power has been restored.

See you along the Trail.

96th street station before Irene

Not sure when I took this one - might have been back in July on my way home from preaching at Church of the Covenant. It seems appropriate to post this one tonight. Tomorrow around noon the MTA is suspending service in anticipation of Hurricane Irene - or Tropical Storm Irene - or whatever may come our way.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Waiting for Irene

I wait.
I wonder.
I wonder what I should wonder.

August 26, 2011
Shire on the Hudson

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Ribbons of Hope

I was in Louisville on September 11, 2001. I had just returned from the World Conference against Racism. A friend flew into town from the same conference - scheduled to arrive on the evening of September 10. Because of flight issues, my friend ended up taking a taxi from Cincinnati that arrived at the Louisville airport early on the morning of September 11. A phone call from another friend later that morning brought me the first word of the day's event. It was a dazed day, even at that distance. In many ways, I continue to sort through the day and its meaning.

Now as the 10th Anniversary approaches, I find myself living in New York. The proximity fills the day with new meanings that lead me to ponder more deeply and work through in new ways.

I have not been to the World Trade Center site yet. Ever. I plan to take part in the events commemorating September 11 including the worship service of the Presbytery of New York City. I think I will go to the site before September 11.

I have helped the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) gather resources for the anniversary. I have promoted the work of Prepare New York.

Today, in a worship service at the Church Center for the United Nations led by the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations, we adapted a liturgy from the National Council of Churches created by written by the Rev. Dr. Eileen Lindner and the Rev. Jon Brown. In the places where the services suggested lighting candles, we invited people to write prayers of remembrance, comfort and hope on simple red ribbons. Ryan Smith read scripture; Peng Leong led the time of prayer; Kevin O'Hara from the Lutheran Office for World Community led the benediction. Thanks to all my friends who helped me pick a song!

These ribbons will become part of the Ribbons of Hope display in Battery Park on the weekend of Septmbe 11, 2011.

To paraphrase the blessing from the liturgy:
May memory now reside in us at peace. May comfort companion us in all our days. May hope spring forth in us by the power of the Holy Spirit. May we serve God in all that you do and say, witnessing to the reign and realm of God to come. Amen.

See you along the Trail.

Sunday, August 21, 2011


It has taken a long time
to reach this point.
It will take a long time,
it will take hard work,
it will take faith and change,
it will take patience
to reach another, better point.

22 August 2011
Shire on the Hudson 

Rainbow over Oahu

Unexpected vistas appear,
unforeseen opportunities arise,
surprises occur,
grace abounds.

For a number of minutes,
I chased this rainbow 
along the H1 on Oahu.
"Dad, there is a reason
the University of Hawai'i 
calls their teams 
the Rainbow Warriors,"
Eric patiently explained.

30 October 2006
Honolulu, Hawai'i  


On my way back from preaching at White Plains Presbyterian Church today, I met Andrew Stehlik, pastor of Rutgers Presbyterian Church on the Uptown Number 2 subway. We exchanged greetings and then began to talk shop.

As he described his sermon, Andrew reminded me that on the night of August 20-21, 1968, Warsaw Pact troops invaded Czechoslovakia shattering the hopes of the Prague Spring.

He also reminded me of the use of keys during the nonviolent Velvet Revolution (Gentle Revolution in Slovakia) that overthrew the communist government of Czechoslovakia. The people jingled keys - ordinary keys - as they gathered to demonstrate nonviolently for change. This simple, yet profound, public act carried two meanings. It proclaimed the unlocking of doors - opening doors long locked by totalitarianism. The act of jingling one's keys also served to tell the communists that it was time for them to go home.

On a day when I preached about Shiphrah and Puah - the Hebrew midwives who committed civil disobedience by refusing to carry out the Pharoah's order to kill the Hebrew children - and the need to live our faith publicly, the story of the keys spoke to me with great power. I told Andrew that I will no doubt use the story in a future sermon; I will credit him when I do.

Thanks be to God for Shiphrah, Puah, the people who jingled keys in Czechoslovakia, and all who work nonviolently for life and peace and justice.

See you along the Trail.



Sometimes change comes with warning;
sometimes not.

30 October 2006
Honolulu, Hawai'i

Helping each other persevere

Sometimes others help us meet the challenges our journeys pose.

To reach the top of Diamond Head, one must climb this staircase.

When I visited Eric, during one of the years he attended Hawai'i Pacific, he insisted that he accompany me when I went to visit Diamond Head. At the top, I realized why. Had I gone alone, I would have turned back - on more than one occasion - including the moment I looked up these steps. But with Eric along, and feeling my responsibility for his experience, I persevered.

28 October 2006
Diamond Head State Monument
Honolulu, Hawai'i

Water moved

As a child growing up on Front River Road on Neville Island, I used to watch the boats in the Ohio River. I only had to pass through my front door and walk across the lawn before I would arrive near the banks of the Ohio. There I would ponder the river and and wonder who was in the boat, where they were going and where they had been and why.
Barges would pass by the island carrying I knew not what. My lack of knowledge made it easy to invent tales of daring and adventure.  
The water of the Ohio moved. And much moved with it: floating branches, fish, waterfowl, ice in spring, and commerce. Recreational boats used the water. It carried pollution visible and invisible. 
The river had power to transport and destructive power as well. It flooded. It claimed life, not often, but it did happen.
Living in Louisville as an adult brought me back to the Ohio. While I did not spend the time on its banks as I did when a child, I experienced comfort and joy knowing the river flowed near my home.
I have returned to Neville Island a couple of times. While much has changed both in reality and from my childhood memories, the Ohio River with its power, grace, and mystery remains.
14 August 2011
Cincinnati, Ohio

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Guide and comfort

Alone we follow,
with a map as
a guide
and a beverage as
a comfort.

5 July 2011
Hornbeck Homestead
Florissant Fossil Beds 
National Monument

Concrete to grass

From concrete 
to grass
in a few short steps,
with different surfaces
on we go.

May 2011
International Ecumenical Peace Convocation


Some rivers we follow,
some rivers we ford,
some rivers we span.

1 April 2011
Queensboro Bridge
New York City

Weather on the trail

all forms of weather
greet us on the trail

21 February 2011
New York City

Buses and the trail

The wheels on the bus
go round
and round
taking us
along the trail.

6 November 2010
New York City

Sailing on the trail

Propelled by human hands,
driven by engines,
riding on the wind,
boats take us along the trail.

November 6, 2010
from the
Staten Island Ferry


Waterways have served as the trail through the ages.

Growing up on an island in the Ohio River and now living on an island, water trails carry deep meaning for me.

1 September 2010
North Platte River
Edness K. Wilkens State Park

Into the distance

We may only be able to view a part of the trail; it may disappear into the distance.

April 2010

Well marked

Sometimes, someone has marked the trail well. It is used and easy to follow.

January 2009
Stones River National Battlefield

Inertia or love?

Never did he leave,
steadfast he remained;
question haunts her still:
inertia or love?

16 August 2011
Shire on the Hudson

Friday, August 19, 2011

Seen on the train - August 19, 2011

On the train into work today, I watched as a guy read Dracula by Bram Stoker on his Kindle directly across from a poster for The Vampire Diaries. Interesting contrasts of technologies and story lines.

See you along the Trail.


The picture is from a couple of years back. I could say it is a bit old, but I realize that would mean that I am a bit older.

I believe this picture was taken by Tiffany Gonzales at a party at her house. Football might have been involved.

What is most important at this moment - is that friendship is definitely involved.

My friend Irene recently endured a very hateful incident. She has had the grace and courage and faith and hope and trust to share her pain and process her pain publicly on Facebook.

A number of her friends have responded with statements of support, long-distance hugs, and prayers. Tonight I decided that, in addition to my words, I would post this picture of Irene and me.

I am honored and grateful to be her friend. I give thanks for Irene and for all who share this journey with me.

See you along the Trail.

Making my way home

Water squishes from my socks
with each step I take through the station,
my pants restrict my movements,
clinging to my shins and thighs,

I trudge down the stairs and onto
the street; I walk through the rain
as though seeking a
wet Oxford shirt contest.

A white flash illuminates the sky,
glowing blue off the top of the subway car;
the sky rasps out
a deep, low rumble.

The storm exhausts its fury
while I make my way home
where I realize
how blessed I am.

19 August 2011
Shire on the Hudson

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


replaces if
in words written
and words said
with some facility.

replaces if
not as a certainty
nor as a guarantee,
no fait accompli.

replaces if
as a sign of hope
a challenge,
a possibility.

But when,
oh when,
will when
replace if
in reality.

16 August 2012

Saturday, August 13, 2011

To get started again?

On the right hand side of my Facebook page, there now appear links to previous posts. I had not noticed them before - or if I did, I ignored them.

Today I noticed one about going to the gym - and for some reason, I followed.

One year ago today, I marked 11 consecutive days of going to the gym. I don't know when that streak ended - how many more days, if any followed.

Part of me, the avoidance part, wants to wonder - are the links always exactly a year old. Another part wonders reading this post be a challenge to get started again.

See you along the Trail.

Friday, August 12, 2011


Harry Potter and Ron Weasley are visiting Professor Slughorn's room as Harry Potter 6  continues. This seems an appropriate picture at the moment. Perhaps I will sometime find something profound to say. But for now, I think this can stand on its own.

See you along the Trail.

Surprise is

Surfing through images,
electronically stored on my computer,
an image -
slightly more than a year old -
of a friend whose song ended too soon,
surprised me.

Sadness tugged my heart,
sorrow filled me;
thanksgiving surged,
gratitude flowed;
a tear and smile
as feelings and memories intermingled,
playing off each other.

Surprise is hard.
Surprise is good.
Surprise is life.

12 August 2011
Cleveland Heights, OH
with thanks to Kathy Lueckert

Love wins?

Love wins.
Love always wins.

Do the people
watching their friends perish,
wasting away from hunger,
leaving their children by roadside
   unable to carry them,
deciding who will eat
   and who will die,
on the Horn of Africa
experience that affirmation?

12 August 2011
Cleveland Heights, OH 44121

August 2011 movie marathon

Eric and I went to the local Blockbusters early in the week. Amazingly enough, it was still open. We picked up a number of used videos.

We had some challenges - the DVD player downstairs in Cleveland Heights is definitely deceased - it is not pining for fjords or anywhere else - it is definitely an ex-DVD player.

We started trying to watch The King's Speech. It skipped and finally froze about 40 minutes into the movie. Then we tried Pirates of the Caribbean 2. It too skipped. Shortly after we decided that we now had two DVDs to return, Eric remembered that the problem was most likely with the player. Tricia came downstairs shortly after that and, in response to our whining, said, "Yes, it has been broken for some time. I never use it."

Eric then brought down his DVD player - which he will take to Bowling Green and the marathon began in earnest.

We doubled back to The King's Speech  and Pirates 2. True Grit (Coen brothers version) started yesterday, followed by Stalag 17 with The A-Team next in line. Today began with The Visitor. A break followed during which I listened to a rather pathetic effort by the Steelers - they lost their first preseason game - and the score could have been worse. Harry Potter 6  is now being viewed.

An interesting mix of classics, newbies, and fluff along with some incredible performances.

Tomorrow I head to Louisville and will need to take some with me to watch while I hang out at the Shire near the Ohio.

See you along the Trail.

2011 Preseason Football

The reminder icon started bouncing - much less annoying than usual because of the event in question.

The NFL Audio pass subscription has been entered. With some work it the audio broadcast has been turned on.

The problems and challenges inherent to football remain.
It's the preseason - but it's a preseason that many thought might not happen.

But it's football. And it's the Steelers.

And away we go.

See you along the Trail.

Thursday, August 11, 2011


Not that I am obsessing with numbers, but how exactly does the number of page views on a given page decrease? Seems kind of weird to me. But it happened. Maybe there is some internal Web counting audit that goes back and corrects things from time to time.

See you along the Trail


Nothing captures my interest
as I surf through channels,
more than I can count;
The King's Speech,
Pirates of the Caribbean,
and other new to me used DVDs sit useless:
the player is dead -
it must be time for bed.

11 August 2011
Cleveland Heights, OH

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Ribbons proclaim hope on September 11

Today I sent a 9-11 "Ribbon of Hope" to Ground Zero to mark the tenth anniversary of September 11. I used the online option.

To commemorate the anniversary, Prepare New York and partner groups are sponsoring the Ribbons of Hope project. People are invited to bring a ribbon to Battery Park in New York City between the hours of noon on Friday, September 9 and dusk on Sunday, September 11. On the ribbon, write a thought or prayer or hope for the healing of the city and for the whole world. In Battery Park, ribbons of all colors, shapes, sizes and textures will be joined to form a large tapestry symbolic of the marvelous mosaic that is New York.

How can I participate?
Individuals, families, groups and organizations can gather ribbons in neighborhood settings, in clubs and congregations and can then designate a messenger to come to lower Manhattan and afix the ribbons to the tapestry. People of all ages can participate. There is no fixed size or shape or width or length. The diversity of ribbons received is a large part of the point. This walk of healing to downtown Manhattan is symbolic in that it reverses the fear-filled path that so many experienced as they fled Ground Zero a decade ago.

I don't live in New York, how can I participate?
People from across the country and around the world are invited to also collect ribbons in the weeks leading up to 9/11 and send them to Intersections International. They will be included in the tapestry as well. Send ribbons to:

Intersections International
274 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10001

Be sure they arrive at Intersections by September 7. Include your name and contact information, the name of your organization and any interesting story about making your ribbons that you’d like to share with others.

You can also participate by "sending" ribbons online through Groundswell.

Find additional ideas for observing the 10th anniversary of September 11, 2001.

See you along the Trail.

Monday, August 8, 2011

An era ends

Friends once commented that I have some amazing pictures of sunrises at Ghost Ranch. I had to correct them.

I have no amazing pictures of Ghost Ranch sunrises - no drab pictures of Ghost Ranch sunrises - I simply have no pictures of any sort of Ghost Ranch sunrises.

I do have a number of pictures of sunsets at Ghost Ranch including this one from the summer of 2008 - some folks may think some of them are nice pictures.

I post this picture today because Eric is on his way home from the ranch. He has completed his fourth year on the College Staff. He and friends drove to Tulsa yesterday; he flies to Cleveland tomorrow.

The summers at the ranch have been times of great joy and a good, good learning experience for him. I was able to get to see him three of the years he was there - actually I was able to be there for two weeks during two of those summers.

However, since he is scheduled to graduate in December, this will be his last summer - at least as a member of the college staff. And that brings some tugging at my heart strings. I am sure I will be back to the ranch - it seems likely that Eric will be back to the ranch - there are possibilities that we may be there together sometime.

But . . . an era has ended . . . life, as life always does, moves on. And as the sun sets on this part of life, I dab a tear, give thanks for what was, cherish the memories, and look forward to what the next sunrise brings (even though it will be well into the sky before this night owl sees it).

See you along the Trail.


Headed on the road again. This time to Cleveland to hang out with Tricia and Eric. A trip to Louisville may prove necessary to deal with some issues at the Shire West - also known as the original Shire. Yet another demonstration that while we may own things, things definitely own us.

See you along the Trail.

Sunday, August 7, 2011


I took this one at Ghost Ranch a couple years back. It is outside the Agape Center, although there are a number of places at the ranch where one can spot hummingbirds. Amazing creatures.

See you along the Trail. 

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Ghosts of Gettysburg

Through early morning mists they march
across the fields of green,
fields red-stained by their life blood
when they were young.
No long range kills,
no smart bombs then;
just frightened, courageous men
for cause
engaged each other
face to face
hand to hand,
performing acts of
unspeakable horror,
incredible valor,
absolute futility
until the arms of Mars
did embrace and claim them.

23 August 2002
The Shire, Louisville

Friday, August 5, 2011

Firefly in August

Hard it is
to be a saint in the city;
harder still, perhaps,
mid the noise and the bright lights and the traffic,
to be a firefly
that is seen in August.

5 August 2011
Shire on the Hudson

Other choices

Forever he will wonder
how his life might have changed
had he chose to turned back that day and stay -
or if not to stay -
at least to say what was in his heart.

Now, years later,
each night he lies awake,
in the small hours of a morning,
delightful images dance in his mind as he
invents scenarios of what might have been.

Yet in some of those still, small hours,
before he reluctantly surrenders to sleep,
he grudgingly concedes
that greater joy no doubt lies in in his imagination
than would have been realized through other choices.

4-5 August 2011
SW 163 MDW - LGA
Shire on the Hudson

Do you know?

Do you know
what fills my mind,
what shimmers in my heart?

Do you know
what I think,
what I feel?

Do you know
what I bear,
how much I care?

Do my deeds reveal?
Do my actions show?
Do you know?

4 August 2011
SW 163 MDW - LGA


Like a green shoot of vine
that wraps around a stone,
clinging patiently until the rock cracks,
there are people who,
seeing something, sensing something in me
beyond my comprehension,
choose the path of relationship,
tenaciously engaging me
until my heart cracks
and they become a part of me

4 August 2011
SW 163, MDW - LGA

Seat 21-E, SW 163

Seat 21-E sits empty beside me,
on this nearly full flight,
space to spread out and relax,
space to enjoy the company
of whomever I call to mind.

4 August 2011 
 Midway Tarmac

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Sticks and stones, but words

Sticks . . .

. . . and stones . . .

. . . but words . . .

Sticks . . . 
. . . and stones . . . 

. . . but words . . .

2 August 2011
SW 646 and Shire West

Living without love

Waiting in line to buy
junk food I did not need,
I was more than a bit befuddled to hear
the young clerk wonder:
"Would you rather have
love or money?"
It seemed a most out-of-place
inappropriate query to pose to
an absolute stranger who only wanted
a candy bar filled with sugar and calories
that would do me no good.
As I stood searching for
a response that seemed witty -
or someone germane -
or at least not totally inane,
she spoke again.
"'Would you rather have
love or money?'
That's what she asked.
And I said:
Love is too stressful."
My disorientation deepened.
Who was this mysterious woman
who posed to my clerk the question?
And what was going on?
Was she expecting a response from me?
From the guy stacking the shelves?
From someone I failed to see?
Was she practicing a soliloquy:
preparing to audition for some part
that might forever transform her life?
I'll never know.
Silently I took my change
and stepped toward the door,
but on the way,
a thought - unsaid, but still recalled,
filled my spirit, mind, heart:
love brings stress; it's never easy--
commitment, compromise, costs.
But what of the stress,
and what of the costs,
and what of the loss,
of the utter, empty barrenness
of living without love?

2 August 2011
Gate B-19, MDW


It took me a while to get there. Several times I tried to visit the Coronado State Monument in Bernalillo, New Mexico - north of Albuquerque. Each time, the monument was closed. Finally, on a cold day last January, I made it. The visit proved worth the wait.

For some reason, among the landscapes and the history, these pots spoke to me. They simply hung on the wall - but they seemed full of meaning as they did.

Is that a sheet of ice covering the top? Or the inside of the pot? I can't tell. I don't remember.

See you along the Trail.