Monday, December 25, 2006

The Least of These

New York Times' writer Manny Fernandez tells the story of a homeless man who has been living in a "cave" in New York City for eight years and yet reaches out to the homeless and hungry. Click here to experience this awesome story.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Merry Christmas!

The best telling of the nativity story is the most simple. Click Here!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Winter Fun!

Can you identify with this guy?

So maybe the guy is a bit frustrated and disappointed but think about how the owner of the other car is going to feel. Imagine that you are the other guy/gal. Would you feel as if you had just been given a gift? Would you feel blessed? Lucky? Special? Chosen? Would it make a difference in how you went about your day? In the way you treat others?
In the midst of the busyness and distractions of the season I am reminded that through God's gift of Christmas each of us has been given a gift, we are chosen and blessed, and yes, it should make a difference.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

It's A Girl!

I am sure that the story of the birth of our fifth grandchild, Jenna Ellie, will become a family legend. After 12 hours of labor, two ambulance rides, a Medevac Flight, and time in intensive care units, mother and child arrived home 67 hours after Jena's birth. Words cannot express our gratitude to those who prayed and those who cared for Susan and Jena. In this season of miracles, we know firsthand the power of God's love.

Jena with her Dad and Big Brother

Thursday, December 07, 2006

The Nativity Story

The new film, The Nativity Story, is what a Sunday School Christmas pagaent would look like if a church had a big budget, adults in the key roles, and attempted to stretch the brief story told in less then 100 verses in the Bible to 101 minutes of film. I have often said that only organized religion could drain the excitement from "the greatest story ever told" but this film proves that Hollywood can do the same thing. It appears as if the film makers used their local Sunday School pagaent as a template for the costumes and dialogue of the one dimensional characters. Just as in any pageant, the three Wise Men appear immediately following Jesus' birth rather then some considerable time later as Matthew reports in his Gospel. Creative lisence is used to develop the three Magi as comic relief. We experience scene after scene of said Magi trekking across the desert and bantering with one another.
Having said all this, is the film worth seeing? Yes, I believe it is. The location filming is beautiful and authentic looking. The scenes of daily life are, I believe, quite accurate. Herod's paranoia and evil are dramatically portrayed. The young actress who plays Mary, Keisha Castle-Hughes, last seen in "Whale Rider, is believable. Unfortunately, most of the other characters are played as Biblical cardboard cutouts reading their lines. I believe the creators of this film missed an opportunity to humanize the characters while at the same time staying true to the Biblical account. "The Nativity Story" doesn't thrill and it should.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Happy birthday Little Richard!

Little Richard is 74 years old today and still going strong. Here he is in 1969 singing one of my favorites, "Tutti Fruiti". Click here.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

With Gratitude!

Life has been busy, busy, busy and hectic, hectic, hectic. In the midst of this months' challenges and obstacles comes Thanksgiving. This holiday calls me to step away from the stress and demands of everyday life and focus on the many things to be grateful for. Here is a short list of things; small and large, fleeting and reliable, expected and unexpected that I recognize as gifts from a divine source.

a morning shower, the taste of grapefruit, an encouraging word, the sound of my grandchildren calling me "PopPop", my wife's kiss, a donut and coffee, my daughter's belly round with pregnancy, the acolyte's sparkly gold shoes sticking out from under her robe, a stranger's kindness, making "Mickey Mouse" pancakes, a new cd playing in the car stereo, holding hands, hearing the words; "I love you" and saying them in return, and I am most grateful for the children and grandchildren in the photo below.
What would be on your list? I invite you to take a moment and reflect on those "good things that the Lord has surrounded us with". Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 05, 2006


One young man, a desire to cheer people up, a crazy idea, and a sign saying "Free Hugs". The result is what is now referred to as "The Free Hug Movement". It began in Sydney, Australia and has spread from South Wales to Tel Aviv. This video depicts how it all began. Click here.
Rescuing Hug
This is a picture from an article called, "The Rescuing Hug." The article details the first week of life of a set of twins. Apparently, each were in their respective incubators, and one was not expected to live. A hospital nurse fought against the hospital rules and placed the babies in one incubator. When they were placed together, the healthier of the two threw an arm over her sister in an endearing embrace. The smaller baby's heart rate stabilized and her temperature rose to normal.
They both survived, and are thriving! In fact, now that the two girls are home, they still sleep together, and still snuggle. The hospital changed their policy after they saw the effect of putting the two girls together, and now they bed multiples together.
Ensign magazine May '98 pg. 94 Adapted from the Readers Digest article "A Sister's Helping Hand" May 1996 Pp. 155-56
Everybody needs a hug. It changes your metabolism. ~Leo Buscaglia

Thursday, November 02, 2006


The prognosis was not very encouraging when our son, John, came to live with us 19 years ago. He began life as a 2lb 1oz premie, suffered a hemorrhage in his brain, and was diagnosed with cerebral palsy and epilepsy. John was not expected to walk or talk. Today John continues to struggle with a variety of health challenges as he sings beautifully and plays harmonica and piano in addition to other instruments. He is presently in a transition program at the high school that is preparing him for life after graduation which will take place this June. John has been a wonderful gift to our family and a daily example of courage in the face of adversity. Throughout his childhood John has had the opportunity to grow in confidence through activities like Special Olympics, Make a Wish, Unlimited Potential Music Institute, and Double H-Hole in the Woods Camp in Lake Luzerne, N.Y. Double H is one of the camps dedicated to founder Paul Newman's dream to provide a recreational and therapeutic camping experience for children with serious illnesses.This camp has been part of our lives for almost 10 years and it is John's favorite place to be. A couple of weeks ago we experienced why this place of compassion and fun is so important to John. We were invited to participate in a "work day" at the camp on a Saturday. In the afternoon the campers and their families were encouraged to enjoy some of the facilities of the camp. One of those facilities is a high rope course that offers many challenges. The apparatus available that afternoon is called "The Big Swing". After donning a helmet and being secured with a safety harness, John made his way to the top of a 6 foot step ladder. A counselor then clipped him to a cable that would lift him high into the trees. John decided how high he wanted to go and as you can see from the photos, it was very high indeed. After reaching his destination, a counselor on the ground pulled a rope that released John to swing like a pendulum through the trees. That's when his parents hearts caught in their throats as John spread his arms like wings and began to sing, "I Believe I Can Fly" by R. Kelly.

"I believe I can fly
I believe I can touch the sky
I think about it every night and day
Spread my wings and fly away
I believe I can soar
I see me running through that open door
I believe I can fly, I believe I can fly, I believe I can fly"
Click here to listen to song and see music video.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Isaac and Friends

"I remain just one thing, and one thing only, and that is a clown. It places me on a far higher plane than any politician." Charlie Chaplin

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Reformation Sunday

On this Reformation Sunday, a few of my favorite Martin Luther quotes:

"We old folks have to find our cushions and pillows in our tankards. Strong beer is the milk of the old."

"If I am not allowed to laugh in heaven, I don't want to go there."
"Pray, and let God worry."
"Some plague the people with too long sermons; for the faculty of listening is a tender thing, and soon becomes weary and satiated."

"There is no more lovely, friendly and charming relationship, communion or company than a good marriage."

Friday, October 20, 2006

What is Beautiful?

How do we define beauty? Where do our perceptions of what is beautiful and what is ugly come from? Here is a powerful new commercial from "Dove" that is part of their "Self Esteem Fund" that addresses these questions. Click here to see the video.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Clowning in Church

Isaac enters Church

As mentioned in previous blog, I donned clown make up for the first time after a long hiatus this past Sunday. Here are some photos of the event. The skit was about managing all the resources God has given us.

Isaac requests a piece of cake from Merry HugglesIsaac InvitesIsaac prays

Isaac and friends celebrate Holy Communion

Monday, October 16, 2006

Clowning Around!

I put on clown makeup yesterday. It had been awhile. It had been so long that it reminded me of the first time in 1977. It smelled the same. It felt the same. The same stirring of excitement deep in my spirit. The same sense of adventure. The same awe as I looked in the mirror and watched the transformation. To be serious about clowning is to die to oneself. The makeup is a death mask in that way; one allows those physical clues of identity to disappear. To become a clown character is to experience a rebirth. The birth of a part of me that is not always visible. The part that is more playful more childlike, and more vulnerable then the way I usually present myself to the world. I remember reading once that you shouldn't "paint it on the outside if it doesn't exist on the inside". To become a clown is to give yourself permission to turn the inside out. There is a misconception that a clown hides behind the makeup. In my experience, nothing could be further from the truth.
Maybe that is why people react in such strong ways to my clown character. His vulnerability invokes their vulnerability. I felt like I really connected on a deep level with people yesterday. It felt good. It felt right.

Friday, October 06, 2006

"The Bridge"

I really like this song, "The Bridge", from the CD "The Captain and The Kid", by Elton John. What does the "bridge" symbolize?
Courage? Faith? Risk? Death? The future?
Here are the lyrics to this song that some critics are calling "Elton John's best in years."
What do you think "The Bridge" symbolizes?
You can listen to the song at AOL by
clicking here.

I've seen the bridge and the bridge is long
And they built it high and they built it strong
Strong enough to hold the weight of time
Long enough to leave some of us behind

chorus: And every one of us has to face that day
Do you cross the bridge or do you fade away
And every one of us that ever came to play
Has to cross the bridge or fade away

Standing on the bridge looking at the waves
Seen so many jump, never seen one saved
On a distant beach your song can die
On a bitter wind, on a cruel tide [repeat chorus]

And the bridge it shines
Oh cold hard iron
Saying come and risk it all
Or die trying [repeat chorus]

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Leaves, Frustration, Anger, and Insight!

"Leaves. Huge, orange maple leaves. My backyard was blanketed in them. And they weren’t mine. They couldn’t have been mine because there weren’t any trees in my backyard. They were my neighbor’s leaves; they had fallen off of his trees and blown over onto my property. And since they were on my property, I now had to clean them up." writes Douglas McCoy in his marvelous story; An Autumn Observation. Click Here to read the rest of this article.

Monday, October 02, 2006


"This life, therefore, is not godliness but the process of becoming godly, not health but getting well, not being but becoming, not rest but exercise. We are not now what we shall be, but we are on the way. The process is not yet finished, but it is actively going on. This is not the goal, but it is the right road. At present, everything does not gleam and sparkle, but everything is being cleansed." Martin Luther

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Autumn Prayer

A prayer for autumn from "Guerrillas of Grace" by Ted Loder.
O Extravagant God,
in this ripening, red-tinged autumn,
waken in me a sense of joy
in just being alive,
joy for nothing in general
except everything in particular;
joy in sun and rain
mating with earth to birth a harvest;
joy in soft light
through shyly disrobing trees;
joy in the acolyte moon
setting halos around processing clouds;
joy in the beating of a thousand wings
mysteriously knowing which way is warm;
joy in wagging tails and kids' smiles
and in this spunky old city;
joy in the taste of bread and wine,
the smell of dawn,
a touch,
a song,
a presence;
joy in having what I cannot live without-
other people to hold and cry and laugh with;
joy in love,
in you;
and that all at first and last
is grace.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006


With 5 children and 4 grandchildren, it seems as if we are always celebrating birthdays. Cake, ice cream, and gifts. The lights are turned down, the candles lit, and we all sing a slightly off key version of the birthday classic. For the children, the candles represent an achievement. Finally, I'm two or twelve or 14. With each year comes new freedom and new responsibility. For the adults, it's different, isn't it? The candles symbolize the past rather then the future. For Mary and I, past 60 now, we gave up putting an accurate number of candles on the the cake long ago. As we age, birthdays become a reminder of how many years have gone by, how fleeting life is, how precious the time. The best thing about birthdays, no matter what the age, is that it is recognized and celebrated. Birthdays are an excuse to get together, to indulge in sweets, to laugh together. So keep the birthdays coming. I like cake!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

The Beat Goes On!

It has been 42 days since my last post. Forty-two Days! How can so much time go by so quickly? What has happened in these waning days of summer? How have I changed? Has anyone been disappointed by my absence? Is anyone still checking this blog? What have the past six weeks been like? Here's a summary. A fantastic week at South Bethany Beach in Mid-August with spouse, 5 children, 2 son-in-laws, 1 daughter-in-law, and 4 grand children. Morning walks with grandson, afternoons with the family on the beach, and evening adventures. Another week of vacation at a friends' camp on the shores of Hunt Lake in the Adirondacks. Just Mary and I. Daughter and family housesitting next door. Solitude. Quiet reading. Paddling a canoe across the mirror like surface of the lake in the early morning. Daily walks. Beautiful sunsets. Helped grandson Jacob catch his first fish.
Quick trip to Vermont to see grandson Noah and his parents.
August 29th. Back to work. E-mails, phone messages, deadlines. Hospital visits. Rally Day! Hosted picnic for 125+ people. A back yard wedding, with accompanying thunderstorm. Three baptisms. Funeral of a beloved parishioner and friend, age 60. Cardiologist warns that my schedule must be kept under control. More medical tests ordered. Sonny and Cher got it right.
The beat goes on, the beat goes on. Drums keep pounding a rhythm to the brain. La de da de de, la de da de da.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Adirondack Birthday Adventure

When we asked Mary how she wanted to celebrate her 60th birthday, she surprised us all by saying that she wanted to go white water river rafting. So I planned a 3 day adventure to the Adirondacks with river rafting in the Hudson River Gorge as the centerpiece.
On Monday we drove to Blue Mountain Lake and toured the
Adirondack Museum. Our last visit was twenty years ago and things have really changed. The museum now covers 35 acres and contains exhibits on every aspect of Adirondack life and history. We spent three delightful hours there and still did not see everything. In the evening we checked into our cabin at The Snowy Mountain Inn at Indian Lake and enjoyed a delicious dinner. I had grilled talapia and Mary had a smoked filet mignon. Yummy!
Early the next morning we gathered at the
Adirondack Rafting Company in Indian Lake to prepare for our day on the river. After getting outfitted with wet suit, splash jacket, life jacket, and helmet; we were ready to board the bus for the 10 minute ride to the launch point. The trip begins on the Indian River with the dam releasing a "bubble" of water which floats the rafts out to the Hudson River. At the launch point we were assigned to our rafts and Mary and I found ourselves in the company of Phil and his daughter, Anna, from Michigan; Kari and Dan from England, who are in the states to play in a lacrosse tournament; and our guide, Mike. Mike has guided on the river for 9 years and filled us with confidence as he gave clear and simple instructions. The photo below is from our very first set of rapids. Mary and I are in the second row from the front. We were on the river for almost 5 hours. Sometimes we were paddling hard in category 3 & 4 rapids and at other times we were floating gently in the current. We did not see a road, a house, or any people on shore the entire trip. This part of the Hudson River Gorge remains untouched by civilization and is quite beautiful. It was an exciting day and Mary and I managed to remain inside the raft the entire trip. We returned to the Snowy Mountain Inn exhausted at 5:30 pm and took naps before dinner. On this night our host made us smoked pulled pork BBQ with cole slaw and baked beans. On Wednesday morning we drove to Old Forge, NY where we boarded the mail boat for a three hour cruise on the chain of Fulton Lakes. This is a working mail boat and we made about 40 stops that morning. It was a wonderful way to see the lakes and experience a task that has been happening every summer since 1910. Mary and I continue to enjoy the trip through the photos and our memories.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Beautiful August evening. Cool breeze blowing in the window. A group of teens are having a party next door. I can hear their laughter. Grandson just left, smooching my cheek and saying, "Good night, PopPop". And I begin a three week vacation tonight. Three weeks. Together. Back to back to back. It will be a new experience. I am blessed.

Haven't posted in a while. Very busy. Stressful and sad time. Friend Roy died. I met him in high school and our families became friends after we were both married and had our first daughters. We laughed, drank, ate, camped, fished, and celebrated together. Weddings and holidays and graduations. Over 40 years of conversations shared and cards played. We would get together only once or twice a year during the past couple of decades. It was like we were never apart. You know the kind of friendship I mean. The comfortable kind. Roy fought a short battle with a very aggressive cancer. Three weeks before his death we were at his son's wedding. Roy smiled, laughed, and joked. The morphine got him through the pain and his love for his family and friends took him the rest of the way. He danced with his wife that night. I'm grateful for that.

I have begun the process of saying goodbye to the people of the faith community that I have shared my life with these past twenty years. My departure is six months away but there is much work to be done. We've been meeting in small groups to talk about change. About the inevitability, sadness, excitement, and blessing that change brings to our lives. Stories are shared. Some are sad, others funny. Most were terrifying. We got through changes in the past and we will all get through this one. I know.

This summer I taught a 5 week course on St. Paul and his writings. Around twenty five people a week would gather on our back porch and we would read his 2,000 year old words. Honest words; words about conflict and pain and suffering and faith and hope. Words written to first century believers in the midst of change. Rejoice, Paul implores his readers over and over to Rejoice. No matter what the circumstances, Rejoice!

I begin a three week vacation this evening but that is not why I am rejoicing. My heart is filled with joy because their is a cool breeze blowing in the window, my grandson's kiss is still wet on my cheek, and I can hear the laughter of young people drifting across the yard. I rejoice because I was blessed with a friendship of over 40 years. Thank you, Roy.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

What Joy Looks and Sounds Like

Is there anything more joyous then the sound of an infant laughing? Check out these quadruplets laughing in their mothers' arms. Click here.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Keeping All The Balls in the Air

My life, at times, feels like a juggling act. There are more balls in the air then I have the ability to juggle. I only have two hands, one brain, 24 hours a day, and limited patience with myself and others. The stress of keeping all the balls moving in a pattern that doesn't result in catastrophe is intense.
Watch this video of young juggler, Vova Galchenko.
Click Here. Notice the concentration, watch his eyes, see the joy on his face. Pay attention and you will see the secret to great juggling. It's about letting go. Vova can only catch the next ball if he lets go of the one that he is holding.
Ah, letting go. Trusting the process. Vova is always looking up, watching the beautiful pattern that is being created. He doesn't focus on his hands, on the catching and grabbing and holding on; his attention is on the letting go and the rhythm that results.
We don't juggle alone. That is the divine promise. Jesus taught a lot about holding on and letting go and said, "Trust in the Father and also, trust in me." Keep juggling!

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Senior High Camp

PC and Keith

I just returned from Senior High Camp. Fifty eight campers, ages 13 to 18; eighteen staff, ages 19 to 61. Eighteen of the campers were young people who had just graduated from High School last weekend. This years' theme was Still In One Peace. We talked about pain, stress, grief, sorrow, suffering, conflict and all those things which cause us to break into pieces. We then learned about and practiced faith, love, forgiveness, joy, laughter, silliness, worship, prayer and all those things which bring about peace. It is difficult to put this years' experience into words because words are limited in their ability to capture emotion and reality. Here's my best try.

Senior High Camp is exciting, exhausting, exhilarating.
Complete, complex, compassionate, caring, and carefree.
Holy, happy, hilarious, heavenly, holistic.
Joyful, jocular, just, and Jesus-centered.
Real, ridiculous, righteous.
Thought provoking and tear inducing.

Senior High Camp is an experience filled with laughter, love, and lessons.
Jello, jokes, and jumping for joy.
Sharing, striving, succeeding.
Dancing, drama, and daring.
Coffee, cookies, candy.
Rain, rain, and more rain.

Speak no evil, hear no evil, see no evil

Guitar ManJello Sucking

To see a video of campers doing the Nooma Nooma Dance click here!!!!!

And to see a video of the Thriller Dance click here!!!!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

First Day of Summer

Slept in the camper in the backyard last night, the blinking of fireflies outside my window as I fell asleep. Awakened at dawn to the singing of a variety of birds welcoming the first day of Summer. If your summer is like mine, it is scheduled, busy, crowded with to much to do and to much to see. It seems to be the American way to take summer to seriously. Po Brosnson, in the latest issue of Time asks "Why do Americans have to work so hard at taking it easy?" He describes something called "Active Leisure". "Anytime you exhaust yourself trying to relax, that's active leisure.....We Americans are so active in our leisure that we commonly complain we need a vacation from our vacations We leave home tired; we come back exhausted." You can read his column in its entirety by clicking here.
What happened to the summers I remember from my childhood? Those "lazy, hazy days of summer". This prayer by Ted Loder, from "Guerrillas of Grace", is my daily mantra this season as I live in the tension between responsibilities and what God calls "sabbath time".

Let Me Live Grace-fully
Thank you, Lord, for this season of sun and slow motion,
of games and porch sitting, of picnics and light green fireflies
on heavy purple evenings; and praise for slight breezes.
It's good, God, as the first long days of your creation.
Let this season be for me
a time of gathering together the pieces into which my busyness
has broken me.
O God, enable me now to grow wise through reflection,
peaceful through the song of the cricket,
recreated through the laughter of play.
Most of all, Lord,
let me live easily and grace-fully for a spell,
so that I may see other souls deeply,
share in a silence unhurried,
listen to the sound of sunlight and shadows,
explore barefoot the land of forgotten dreams and shy hopes,
and find the right words to tell another who I am.
As for me, I will sleep in the backyard in the middle of a busy week and pretend for a moment that I am deep in the Adirondack woods. I will share a soft ice cream cone with a friend on a hot summer afternoon before rushing back to the office and I will run barefoot with my grandson through the sprinkler on a humid evening. Ahh, Summer!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Amazing Hole-in-One

I haven't played golf in over five years but I sure enjoyed seeing this shot by Fuzzy Zoeller. Click Here to see the video.

Flag Day Parade

We attended an old fashioned "Flag Day Parade" in Glenville, NY. Here are some photos.