How did you get your name,
what lies beyond your flame
of colors bright and true
that tells the story of you?
Splash of green and vibrant red
sunset colors dance across earth’s grassy bed,
lit from within you glow,
and brighten wherever you grow.

Photo by: Rob Vander Meer


I come from a
mixed marriage,
a brown mom,
a whiter than white dad.
We never thought
we were different
until we went to school,
me whiter than white,
my older brother
browner than brown
in a most amazing and beautiful way.
We never learned
Mom’s mother tongue,
I wish we had.
Spanish is a lovely language,
filled with nuance
and passion
and an element of story
rich in days gone by
and hope for better tomorrows.

Dear Mom

Mona Peralta Conkle

Dear Mom:

Mona Peralta ConkleWhen you died in 1986 at the age of 62, it was a blow to all of us. Despite a diagnosis of cancer, we all kept hoping against hope you would pull through and get back to normal, to being Mom, the woman who had an answer for everything.

I remember the trip we took to visit your Concho, Ariz., roots in July 1969, which happened to coincide with Neil Armstrong landing on the moon. What I recall most about that trip was going to the adobe house you grew up in, a crumbling ruin that was hardly big enough to accommodate two people, yet you lived there with several siblings and your dad after your mother died. What remained were a few exterior walls with a yellow climbing rose growing up the side. A burbling stream meandered behind what was left of the house and enormous trees shaded the property as though keeping it safe for whoever would someday decide to build a life there. I’m sure that experience was colored by romanticism based on stories you told us about your childhood. I plucked a yellow rose from the vine and pressed it between the pages of my Bible. I kept the rose for many years until life intervened and I lost it somewhere along the way. I still feel the loss of that rose, as I feel the loss of you.

I’m sorry I never knew your mom and dad, Pete and Ruth Nunez Peralta, but as it turns out, you hardly knew them either. Grandmother Ruth died when you were barely four, and Grandpa Pete, nine years later. You were left to be raised by older siblings. Why did I never ask you how that affected you growing up?

Dad loved telling stories about your first year as a (very) young married couple. I especially liked the one about him “accidentally” dropping the casserole dish of macaroni, cheese and hamburger on the floor after having been served the same thing almost every night for the first month of your marriage. Dad never was a subtle kind of guy. You may not have started out as a great cook, but that changed by the time I was born. No one could cook like you.

You did not have it easy. When Dad was in the Navy you were a “Rosie the Riveter” until I was born, and then you moved with my older brother and me to live with Dad’s folks in Arizona until he came home from the service. When we were older, you worked at a number of low-paying jobs while Dad worked in the oilfields. Over the years, three more kiddos came along. I must say I was horribly embarrassed when at thirteen I learned you were PREGNANT! Let it be said that I didn’t exactly know what happened between moms and dads in their bedrooms, but what I did know sounded downright icky and I was sure my mother and father didn’t do those things. Until along came my baby sister.

Your beloved oldest child, my wonderful brother, Don, died of some horrifying version of cancer when he was twenty. It wounded us all to the heart, but especially you. He was so like you, more than the rest of us. He had tea-colored skin like yours, coal black hair like yours, warm chocolate brown eyes like yours, and innate charm, like you. A light went out in all our lives when he was gone.

You had plenty on your plate to keep you going. Your third child, my sweet, sweet sister Patty, was a fragile flower, a child whose mind never quite matured. You and Dad didn’t institutionalize her, as some might do, you kept her at home and loved her as deeply as you did the rest of us. Perhaps that is why you spent most of your professional career working with the mentally ill and others who needed treatment that combined understanding, compassion and firm boundaries. You were honored many times in your career by your peers and your patients. No one honored or held you in as high regard as did Don, Marc, Melissa, Patty who loved you with the brightness of a fallen star, and I. So many in our family are gone now, but I have no doubt they are dancing with you in heaven.

Your deep faith and your limitless love inspired me to be a better person. I confess I have not measured up in many ways, but I try.

I miss you, Mom. You packed a lot of living into your 62 years. You had a big laugh. You had a great capacity for love. Thank you, for the gift of your amazing self you shared with so many.

–Your daughter…

Professional Coaches Highlights of Renewal Program

Thanks to a grant awarded in 2022 from the National Clergy Renewal Program funded by Lilly Endowment Inc., the First United Presbyterian Church, Las Vegas, planned an ambitious program of congregational renewal while its pastor, Rev. Katie Palmer took a three-month sabbatical for clergy renewal. And then the hills erupted in a fast-moving fire that consumed more than three hundred thousand acres of land, countless properties, and the livelihoods of many. Pastor Katie, as she is known by her congregation, knew immediately her place was with her church family and community, not going on sabbatical. The grantor organization agreed and allowed the church to reschedule the renewal plans and sabbatical to 2023. On May 6, FUPC will begin Tracking the Word: Embodying the Spirit in a period of renewal and exploration. At no cost to participants, the summer-long activities include –

• five professional coaches offering Saturday in-depth workshops and Sunday worship;

• three Saturdays of Try Something New Workshops led by practitioners in the arts of writing, journaling, poetry, music, drama, woodworking, glass painting, zentangle, and American sign language;

• and on Sundays not covered by professional coaches, lay leaders will provide alternative worship experiences that include movement, writing, Quaker practices, music, painting, drama, biology, and Taoist philosophy.

For a brochure and more information about Tracking the Word: Embodying the Spirit, go to Note there will be complimentary meals provided on the Sundays featuring professional coaches.

“Tracking the Word: Embodying the Spirit,” speaks to our desire to follow Christ’s tracks and to embody the Spirit not only in our work, but in the deepest part of our beings,” said Rev. Katie Palmer, FUPC pastor. “We never know where those tracks might lead, but we can commit to follow them faithfully.”

Activities begin on May 6 with the first professional coach workshop featuring John Stokes, and run through August.

Stokes, founder and director of The Tracking Project, Inc.,in Corrales, N. M., is a well-known musician, performer, writer, and teacher of tracking. Since 1980 he has worked and traveled extensively to bring awareness of the natural world and the integrity of indigenous peoples to interested people around the world. He will conduct two Saturday workshops. One on the riverwalk beginning at 1 p.m., and a second at the Presbyterian Church, 1000 Douglas Ave., beginning at 3 p.m.

In these workshops, Stokes will explore how The Tracking Project’s programs of natural and cultural awareness incorporate a wide range of skills—from traditional tracking and survival skills to music, storytelling, dance, peacemaking, and martial arts training. The name Arts of Life ® was chosen to describe these programs, which emphasize indigenous knowledge, the lessons of nature and the power of dreams and art.

Stokes will lead worship on May 7, and further expand on the topic of tracking and its spiritual applications. Call 505 425-7763 to make reservations for the meal following worship.

On Saturday, June 10, Jen Friedman, M.Div., will lead The Body’s Wisdom: The Art of Facing Change with Embodiment Practice beginning at 1 p.m., at Old Town Mission Community Center, 301 Socorro Street.Friedman, hospital chaplain and Leader of Dances of Universal Peace is an interfaith minister, chaplain and spiritual leader serving the growing community of seekers and practitioners identified as spiritual but not religious. She is known for sharing a deeply sacred presence and creates an authentic spiritual atmosphere to any ceremony or event she facilitates. She holds a Master of Divinity from The Iliff School of Theology and has a depth of spiritual understanding unique to her. Freidman has engaged rigorous study and practice in many faith traditions including Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism. She is the executive director for Dances of Universal Peace, North America.

For the workshop, Friedman asks that participants embody their commitment to justice, non-violence, and peace with meditation and body prayer practice that honors the beauty and truth immanent in all beings. The Dances of Universal Peace are meditative, joyous, multi-cultural circle dances using sacred phrases from the world’s spiritual traditions and beloved songs from the peace movement. These are joined with live music and movement, to create embodied prayers that allow participants to touch the spiritual essence within and recognize it in others. Worship on Sunday, June 11 will continue the theme of The Body’s Wisdom.

On Saturday, July 8 at 1 p.m., M. Roger Holland II will present a workshop on Negro Spirituals: Songs of Freedom and Songs of Justice and continue the topic during worship July 9. Holland is a teaching Assistant Professor in Music and Religion and Director of The Spirituals Project at the Lamont School of Music, University of Denver. A graduate of Union Theological Seminary in New York City where he received his Master of Divinity degree, Holland also served as Artist-in-Residence and director of the Union Gospel Choir for over 13 years. In 2015 Union awarded him the Trailblazers Distinguished Alumni Award, the first given to a graduate whose ministry is music, for his contributions to the legacy of African American music. He received a master’s degree in Piano Performance from the Manhattan School of Music, also in New York, and completed his undergraduate work at Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ, where he majored in Music Education with a concentration in piano and voice.

In the Saturday workshop, Holland will explore how the music and the history of Negro Spirituals served to sustain and inspire an enslaved community, and later become the bedrock of the Civil Rights Movement. Through a sociohistorical lens, not only will participants become acquainted with the history of slavery in America but will discover how Black Americans persevered and overcame oppression. Participants will discover how this historical music became the essence of the freedom songs that fueled a social justice movement and transformed a nation. 

Rev. Linda Loving’s Saturday July 29 workshop is designed to deepen understanding of biblical passages and breathe life and Spirit into readings of God’s word. Her sermon topic on July 30 will be For Such a Time at This. Loving has a BA in Theatre, University of Michigan, and Master of Divinity, McCormick Theological Seminary. In addition to serving many parishes around the country, she has also performed for more than 33 years JULIAN, a one-woman drama by J. Janda, which she has filmed in Julian’s cell in England. Loving has performed in professional theatre companies in the Midwest and Santa Fe and owns a business,

Loving said disciples and actors share a similar desire to embody truth and offer transformation to others. The workshop gives simple disciplines from a trained actor/preacher. “Delight in your own gifts – we all play ‘leading roles’ in God’s continually unfolding drama of Life and Love,” Loving said. Individual and choral readings as well as Reader’s Theatre will all be explored. “Some may choose to simply observe; all will find new ways to receive and love God’s word,” she said.

Rev. Seth Finch has been a pastoral leader at Covenant Presbyterian Church in Albuquerque since 2008. He received his Master’s of Divinity from McCormick Seminary and a Master’s of Interfaith Action from Claremont Lincoln University. In 2018 he did his sabbatical focused on storytelling. His travels took him to New York to learn storytelling at “The Moth” mainstage; to Scotland where he participated in events at the Scottish Storytelling Center, and did research into his family story; to Northern Ireland to work with Padraig O’Tuama and Corymeela on how storytelling can help us work for peace; and across the Southwest to look at the story of the area’s culture.

Finch says of his Saturday, Aug. 12 workshop, “One of the things that most deeply binds us together as people and as communities is our shared stories. Stories guide our lives, who we think we are, who we think we relate to, how we live as people of faith. Learning to share our story and receiving the stories of others is a skill that helps us to build beloved Christian community.” In this seminar Finch will talk about what makes for a good story, how we tell our story, and reflect a little on what our shared stories look like. His Sunday, Aug. 13 sermon is entitled The Stories we tell Ourselves.

The FUPC season of exploration workshops and activates are free and open to everyone. For more information go to

No Promises

No resolutions for 2023. If the past three years have taught us anything, it’s that nothing is certain. The joy of today can be quashed in a heartbeat by unanticipated, sometimes horrific reality. No, I have not abandoned my faith and Pollyanna approach to life; like you, I’ve just seen one reality-check after another in these days of Covid, inflation, RSV, flu, insane politics, wars everywhere, travel meltdowns, homelessness in ever-increasing numbers, devastating natural disasters… GASP! GASP! GASP!

What we have also seen is the generosity of one human toward another. Strength beyond imagining in people who lost homes and livelihood to fires and flood and war and more, people who, despite their own challenges, stepped in to help neighbors. We are not past the impact of devastation. Therein lies a whole other hill to climb and hopefully overcome. In the case of the Calf Canyon/Hermit’s Peak fire and subsequent flood, will insurance provide the means by which loss can be recovered? How or will FEMA help or hinder? What resources are available to get reliable answers?

The onslaught of lawyers promising the moon is mind-boggling! I’m not sure lawyers are the answer. Here is the link to FEMA if you don’t already have it:

Click below to open a two-page brochure with helpful information. The timeline extends into April 2023.

Below is my end-of-the-year poem. It is intended to be hopeful and maybe a wee bit helpful as we head into 2023. And really, when you think about it, January 1 is just another day. Be at peace with yourself and others, day by day.


There is reality in today,
hope in tomorrow.
Lean into the promise,
rest in the certainty
we live one day at a time
as best we can.
Let that be enough.
Some days will be wonderful,
some make us wonder –
how will I survive and thrive?
May the darkness of doubt
flee before the rising sun of hope
always on the horizon.

Unless otherwise indicated, all content on this site is created by me. I appreciate likes, shares, and comments.


Blue is the color
of sadness.
When the world seems
gilded with
a happy golden glow,
some grieve
others founder
on the shoals of loneliness.
Tragedy does not
take a holiday.
Take heart,
there is hope.
Someone cares.
That is the story
of the manger.

Unless otherwise indicated, all content on this site is created by me. I appreciate likes, shares, and comments.

Review: Bella Collector of Cuentos

Bella is about to go on the trip of a lifetime. No, it does not involve planes, trains, or automobiles, but it may involve a horse, an odd little cart, and a weird bird, among other surprises.

Oh, and a bit of magic.

While going through old things in the attic of the family home, Bella finds – and oh, my! – falls into another time and place, where she learns that perhaps she can be more than the quiet little sister and the shy student, easy prey for a school bully.

In this magical place she meets ancestors, beings of legend and lore, Death, and most important, she meets herself and learns her potential. And she learns perhaps the most important lesson of all: to be remembered is a blessing; to be olvidado, forgotten, is to let one’s culture and language slip away.

She meets fore bearers she never knew, or scarcely knew in their lifetimes. At nearly 15, coming into the family late in her parents’ marriage, she sees no connection to her past. Nor does she see the threads that bind her family together, feeling too often the outsider.

The legendary characters she meets on her journey teach her the importance of retaining a connection to the cuentos, the stories, that are the backdrop of her culture, the art, music, and literature that frame who she is.

In the land of yesterday she encounters beings – human and fantastical – who by turns protect her, teach her, and caution her to remember their cuentos and share them with a careless society that has forgotten their value.

Dwarves and giants, witches and snakes, tricksters and Death herself leave a lasting mark on Bella. Reading the story of her journey is charming, yes, but it is also a cautionary tale about remembering and sharing one’s culture and language, not as an afterthought, but as a vibrant part of life.

Bella Collector of Cuentos is a tale told by those who do not want to be forgotten. It is also a magical tale about a girl coming into her own.


we believe
we have so much
when in truth
time spools out
like thread
on a spindle
weaving together
with other threads
creating a tapestry.
Your thread,
my thread,
can break
at any time.
I pray to consider carefully
the choices I make,
the actions I take
so the thread
from my spool
adds goodness to
the tapestry of life
before it breaks.

Photo by Pixabay on

Unless otherwise indicated, all content on this site is created by me. I appreciate likes, shares, and comments.