The end of December is a time to take stock. Many of you have invested time and thoughtful energy by responding to my weekly posts in the comments section of my web site. Unfortunately, these comments—often quite profound—go unread. To say thank you to those who have taken the time to comment, then, I thought I’d share some of my favorites.

On July 4th weekend I wrote a post, The Day After Trump, prompting this response from Andreas Thode: On the day after Trump, how does Congress restore its balance? How do we all…restore our balance? … I think your 2nd Step may point towards a resolution – talk among those with whom we disagree, find ways to have conversations that are peaceable and lead to small steps forward together, then larger ones. It will be a long road – but we all need to both talk and listen, and then be open to grow into new understandings.

voting booths

And this from Daayiee Abdullah, Unless we elect more women, people of color and people who demand change in November, the effects of DT will linger far longer than it needs to be. Change in the political base stops the destruction of what’s left. We build once the hemorrhaging stops.

A week later was my 70th birthday and my post, How Wonderfully Strange, was a recasting of the line from Simon and Garfunkel’s Bookends album. It drew more reactions than any other post for the year (perhaps saying something about the demographics of my audience). My friend Cliff Aerie, echoed many: Welcome to the 70 plus club. I’ve been waiting for you. It’s not bad on this side at all. In fact, it’s an opportunity to stretch your wings and speak as an elder spokesperson. Age may not bring wisdom, but years of experience can lend credibility to well-thought analysis and commentary. Keep raising your voice and continue your call to speak truth to justice. Indeed, there is no shortage of things to do.

Hasan Murad

In September, I lost my friend Dr. Hasan Murad from Lahore in a tragic auto accident. Zubair Siddiqui wrote this: A most beautiful and befitting tribute to the memory of Dr. Sohaib Hasan Murad from a friend across the religious ‘borders’ and the piece is a living testimony how relationships should be based on common values of humanity which the genuine and pure Islam stands for.

Kavanaugh and Ford

Two posts, Listen to Her and Truth and Temperament, were consumed with the Judge Kavanaugh hearings. On the latter, perhaps the most piquant comment was made by my Mom, If Judge Kavanaugh has these outbursts while sipping water, how bad would it have been if it had been beer?

One ongoing theme has been President Trump’s seeming inability to empathize, whether in separating children from their parents at our southern border, caring about Americans with pre-existing health conditions or those caught in the cross-hairs of hateful rhetoric. These thoughts coalesced in a post shortly before the midterm elections. Barbara Costigan responded, Like many Americans, I was blind to the deep levels of hatred that have been lurking below the surface of our society. That hatred is the real “invader” of our country and it is a formidable foe.

distraught dad

And Rabbi Simkha Weintraub quoted Proverbs, Death and life are in the power of the tongue…(Prov. 18:21)

My post at the death of President George Bush, H.W. and My Dad, drew several comments touching on both intimately personal emotions and the universal sense of loss that Bush’s death evoked, including one from UCC friends and colleagues Pat and Earl Miller who many years ago experienced my parents’ extravagant hospitality: What a loving tribute to your dad as our nation mourns the passing of HW. Your insights feed my soul, Bob. Love to your mother from both of us.

James Kidner, from the UK, was among those who expressed appreciation for these posts: This touching tribute to your wonderful father moves and inspires in equal measure. You do more for your readers than you can know – we all feel much in your debt.

George and Barbara Bush

And my friend Sam Simon was reminded of a poem, US, he had written for his wife Susan in 2012. (I took the liberty of correcting the typos in his comment):

  • Life exists within each of us as a form of the Divine.
    A tangible essence of who we are.
    Love is when our essence became entwined.
    Each an equal half of the other.
    “I love you” simply awakens the US in you and me.

The use of President Trump’s overcoat was a symbol that struck a chord, including a conversation between Mart Bailey, Joe Parlagreco and Art Cribbs.

Mart: Of course, I had noticed the President’s attire, especially that coat, cut-longer-than-usual. Even on balmy fall days–that going-to-a-funeral coat…There are moments when my compassionate self almost feels sorry for Donald Trump; but my dominant sorrow is for the American people who deserve more. Grief for America is what I feel..

Joe: It is also the ubiquitous attire of the New York mob boss. Both in film and the real world!

Art: I truly appreciate how you have peered closely into the black overcoat as a covering of something perhaps sinister…The long, black overcoat is more than a covering. It is the obvious attire of a leader who runs roughshod without conscience over the lives of others (people and the environment) with godless abandon.

Trump in Uniform

Mart: Thanks, Art, for the observation about the black coat as “the attire” of a man without conscience who runs roughshod…I just hope that the current court actions will catch up with him. How can the Republican leadership not see what he is doing to their party and to the American “way of life”?

Finally, upon returning from Pakistan, I wrote about my experiences in Gifts of the Season. My Pakistani host elaborated on the story I told about Kitchen Gardens. You can read his full account here.

As I close out 2018, I want to thank everyone who has taken the time to read these weekly posts, and especially those of you who have commented either to me personally or on my web site. What a gift you have given to me! Wishing you blessings for a safe and prosperous New Year.





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