richard beal

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Yes, I’m spending too much time on facebook. Why? Well, it’ so easy. One waits for comments on your posts, posts on your comments, comments on your comments, and finds some posts, some comments, interesting even if you don’t comment back. It’s one gigantic blog where everyone is posting and commenting at the same time. The stream of information is sweeping by at an alarming rate. A hot topic one day disappears into the next. It’s information overload! But fun. Still, is it largely a waste of time? Not necessarily.

It can be a channel into interesting topics. Sam Harris has a FB page which I looked into and found an interesting two hour long debate between Harris and Shermer on one side and Chopra and Houston on the other. Juan Cole has a page. And Barney Frank. Then there’s Karen Armstrong with her Charter for Compassion. Countless others. Too much of course, and how does one pick and chose?

The net result is I ignore this blog. Not that I don’t have enough to do besides facebook. The Norway UU church keeps me busy. The stewardship campaign is beginning and there’s hardly anyone to run it. A flurry of emails amongst Chris Davis, Kathi Pewitt, Deborah Crump, Richard Beal, and me, plus a couple of phone calls from Chris to me, finally resolved a date for our kickoff meeting: April 16th from 5:30pm to 7pm. And then there’s all the church’s financial stuff with me as treasurer. Then there’s OUR financial stuff.

Enough for now. I’ve got to think about food and interact with Cynthia regarding the food, plus check our provisions.

Oh, but I’m reading an interesting philosophical book by James P. Carse, “Breakfast at the Victory: The mysticism of ordinary experience”. Fascinating but difficult. The need for silence. The heading for the sixth chapter is one of my favorites. It’s from the Rig Veda X:129:

Then even nothingness was not, nor existence.
There was no air then, nor the heavens beyond it.
What covered it? Where was it? In whose keeping?
Was there then cosmic water, in depths unfathomed?
Then there was neither death nor immortality,
nor was there then the touch of night and day.
The One breathed windlessly and self-sustaining.
There was that One then, and there was no other.
In the beginning desire descended upon it –
that was the primal seed, born of the mind.
The sages who have searched their hearts with wisdom
know that which is kin to that which is not.
But, after all, who knows, and who can say
whence it all came, and how creation happened?
The gods themselves are later than creation,
so who knows truely whence it has arisen?
Whence all creating had its origin,
he, whether he fashioned it or whether he did not,
he who surveys it all from highest heaven,
he knows — or maybe even he does not know.

Now I gotta go.

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Hey, we had a pretty nice “vesper service” Sunday eve over at the West Paris UU church. The topic was FEAR. Sounds good, huh? BOO! But I like the opening and closing statements. The rest was good too. Here’s the opener:

There is a love that restores the soul,
a love that makes all things new,
a love that will not ever let us go.
May we trust in that love.
May we rest and be held by that love.
Even when we cannot believe it exists,
love is all around us, among us, inside us.
May love speak through our lips,
Hear through our ears
now and always.

Here’s the closer:

Safety is not the most important value.
Let us encourage one another
to live our lives with passion and risk,
to find something important to serve.
Caring makes us vulnerable;
still, let us go toward life
as if our fears had taken a deep breath and
calmed down.
Let us go toward life.

There were 13 of us there including Richard Beal, our minister. A couple of new people, the Dewings seemed pretty interesting. Turns out Mr. Dewing attends Shaker services down in Shaker Village, Maine, and his wife gives guided tours there. Doug Leathem was depressed because his dog died. (I won’t sing, “When the dog died, we had hot dogs.” and didn’t sing it then.)

About 30 slips of paper were passed out from a basket passed around. These were all various quotes having to do with fear and how to handle it. Then we gave our reactions in a kind of Quaker meeting style. This was very interesting. (The Shaker got to act like a Quaker.) Then we had a period of silence. Then we had another song to sing before the closing words. A pretty good evening.

Next week the topic’s gonna be Generosity. It’s over at the Norway UU church and starts at 6:30pm Sunday eve. Come on down!

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OK, I’m still on a high I guess from participating in Heather Pierson’s Open Mic last night at our First Universalist Church of Norway, Maine. I recited/read three poems, there was a great young comedian, and the great character Wellington was there with his wife, and some of the other performers, like Nate Towne, and Harry [?], and Bob Wallace, were great too. Am I including myself under the word “great”? Ha Ha. Hardly! I think I was a bit over the top in trying to get attention for the poems I read, but I felt powerful and enjoyed getting laughs — certainly different from the old days when I was so shy and frightened up there on the Open Mic stage trying to be perfect. And to top it all off, the Rev. Richard Beal was there providing scrumptious popcorn which I couldn’t resist.

For the record, here’s the poems I read: (1) Poem XXXII from Alfred E. Housman’s Shropshire Lads (note he’s not Alfred E. Newman) with the first line. From far, from eve and morning; (2) Sunday Morning by Wallace Stevens of which I read only the first stanza and part of the final, and last but not least (3) Lady Lazarus by Sylvia Plath. Quite a bunch! I gave my personalized interpretation of each.

Perhaps I’ll add more to this later. I’ve probably forgotten things I should mention. OH, I forgot the Rev. Tom Myorie (sp?), and Mary Uke! More later.

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I’d better get this all down while it’s still fresh in my mind. Where to start? Why not at my arrival in the sanctuary Saturday around 11am? Yes! What should I find but a group of about ten or twelve Bradley family members singing a Finnish song. David had had a long association with the Finns, starting as a newspaper reporter to cover the Finnish-Russian Winter War. The song was beautifully sung in Finnish.

Soon they got around to rehearsing Goin’ Home and I found out their whole group expected to participate as well. This was fine with me. They allowed me to sing my beginning solo on the first few bars, and I felt I hit this really well. The reason I got to participate at all was that Dave had wanted me to sing this song. As the song went on to the higher notes, I actually found them easier to sing and I surprised myself by hitting the high Fs in what I felt was a full Lawrence Tibbett fashion!

The various rehearsals — there were other songs as well — finished around Noon and then a one hour wait began for the service to begin at 1pm. The Bradley folk were writing further notes on what they would say during the remembrance portions of the service, and some were having sandwiches. Darby Bradley passed out water bottles and others got their boxes of tissues ready. I ate a single tangelo, which I realized later was not enough.

Shortly before 1pm I sat with our choir and my water bottle handy. Right about 1pm the troop of Bradleys — there must have been 25 or 30 in all — walked into the sanctuary and took their places in the front rows. We were in front but off to the side just behind the piano where Heather Pierson was ready. The minister, the Rev. Richard Beal, gave a short and thoughtful welcome to the 150 or so people in the sanctuary, and then Ben Tucker III strode to the podium to announce the Joyous Jubilation that was about to begin. He began by warning that the service could be a long one and that we ought to feel free to move around or take a necessary break if needs be. This got me thinking, Oh oh, this isn’t going to be over in a half hour! I swallowed hard and took a drink from my water bottle.

Ben Tucker III’s speech was indeed joyous and jubilant as he described the reasons for celebrating David Bradley’s truly amazing life as a skier, sailer, mountain climber, war correspondent, doctor, author, atomic energy lecturer, legislator, teacher, singer, mentor, husband, and father of six children. And I might add, practical joker and humorist, although I think Ben probably did cover this as well.

First to celebrate was Dave’s youngest son, Steven, with an assist from Nicolette Corrao who is married to one of Dave’s sons. Steven had a tough time speaking at first with tears and Nicky had to keep pushing the mic closer, but when he got to singing, it was beautiful. He had written this music to his Dad’s poem and homage to his mother, Josephine.

Next came a teenage granddaughter, Caitlin Morgan, who had been sitting in the pew across from me with a box of tissues. She tearfully spoke and delivered a short poem. I had trouble catching it. This is partly because I’m not wearing my uncomfortable but expensive hearing aids.

Then the Family Remembrances began. These indeed took quite a while but were interesting and moving. A grandson, Markus Bradley, bearded in his early 20’s started it off. He was a charming fellow and I caught a few of his interesting stories involving his granddad.

OK, this post is getting too long and I’m running out of steam. I’ll never be able to recapture all of this amazing and inspirational event. So what about me?

After several other celebratory events, there came a time for General Remembrances from anyone in the audience. Needing desperately to urinate, and knowing that the toilet was outside the door just beyond the mic, I rushed up after the first speaker had finished his five or ten minute speech — it was interesting and about Dave’s relationship to Finland but I missed a lot — grabbed the mic and told how I used to sit beside Dave in the choir. That helped cement a friendship between us, and I told of the time there was this discussion amongst the women in the front row which I — being slightly deaf as I’ve implied — couldn’t hear very well. Dave was even deafer than me, but I asked him, “What are they saying?” He waved his hand to say, “It doesn’t matter.” This drew quite a bit of laughter from the audience. Then I headed for the toilet, and returned later to my seat after waiting for another long-winded but interesting story-teller finish his remembrances of Dave.

By the time it got to be my turn to join the group and sing Goin’ Home, I was worn out from the long wait and lack of food. So, I don’t think I did as well with the song as during the rehearsal. But still, I felt good about it, hit the high notes well, and kept from crying. Before I sang and just before the Benediction by Rev. Beal, Nicolette Corrao gave a powerfully beautiful performance of Gounod’s Ave Maria.

Finally, Ben Tucker III gave inspirational and profound Closing Remarks and everyone held hands for the closing prayer about the importance of our mutual love. We were all eager after this to sample the great supplies of food put together downstairs by church member Kathi Pewitt and her helpers.

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