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My dear wife, Cynthia, who I seem to miss more and more as time goes on, gave a wonderful passionate sermon once about her great love for gardens and landscaping. This was on Palm Sunday at the Norway, Maine, UU church on April 9, 2006. The other day while driving to Norway and trying to imagine and hear in my mind the sound of Cynthia’s lovely well modulated voice, it occurred to me that a tape of the April 9, 2006, service may still exist. Kevin Farr happened to be at the church so I asked him. Two minutes later he was back with the tape which I later gave to Kate. A few days later she presented me with a wonderful CD of the entire service. What fun I’m having listening to this! On first listening I could not stop the tears from flowing.

For a copy of her sermon see here.

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Here’s a humorous poem my wife Cynthia wrote back in March 2004. It’s purpose was to stimulate people to gather together their plants for the upcoming spring plant sale at the Norway UU church in Norway, Maine.

Plant Sale / Church Garden
(A Reminder)

Garden lover, garden lover,
Lend to me your ear!
Soon your long lost, joyful plants
Will flaunt beloved cheer.
Even as you inhale each bloom,
Pray appraise just what is there!

For May the 29th’s the date
When our surplus shoots,
Potted, labeled, and arrayed
(care taken for the roots)
Will once again with pride be placed,
For eager shopping groups.

Dig and separate your extras
Daisy, iris, herb;
Hostas, pansies, lilies. asters –
All you may disturb;
Such hardy, lush perennials.
And it’s for the church!

Now ponder this as ‘mongst your jewels
You putter and pot up:
How now a greeting U.U. plot
Before the steps wend up?
Color, texture; summer, winter.
Hello! We’re here! What’s up!

Thus may church reach out to Main Street,
With love and beauty say:
“We welcome all, we value all.
Come in, from out the fray”.
Oh gardeners list’, consider well,
Your plants may pave the way!

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I’ve had time to read a few books in the past several months in spite of all the effort I’ve been putting in trying to develop a new church website for our Norway UU church using Joomla. OK, while I’m at it, why not mention loose bowels? I seem to have not diarrhea exactly but a pronounced looseness bowelwise and also perpetual sleep problems, not unrelated perhaps. Good God! I didn’t intend to get off on this subject!

A few weeks back I finished “My Stroke of Insight” by Jill Bolte Taylor, Ph.D., a neuroscientist. Her stroke deactivated a significant part of her left brain making it possible for her to function only through her right brain. The experience of this was what was amazing to her, and to the reader as well, I’m sure. The world, the universe, becomes something totally different. A feeling of oneness with the world and remarkable insight, a certain kind of spirituality where there exists no pressure to do anything, just to exist in the lap of the profoundest of feelings of wonder and, yes, joy. Of course, this was dangerous for her as the bleeding in her left brain was not stopping. With great effort she managed to save herself.

So, the mind has resources and perceptual abilities we never imagined.

Speaking of mind, I’m now working my way through “Absence of Mind: The Dispelling of Inwardness from the Modern Myth of the Self” by Marilynne Robinson. She really takes on the Richard Dawkinses of the world! She’s saying that there is a place for subjectivity and indeed religion, although so far she hasn’t said much about the latter. Some of it is hard for me to follow, but other parts ring bells. She goes after memes in a big way and tries to show how memes theory contradicts gene theories. I haven’t read the rejoinders by the rationalists yet, but I’m sure they’re tearing into her unmercifully because she really goes after them in this book.

Incidentally, Jon Stewart even gave her a favorable interview recently.

This quote from her has been highlighted by several reviewers: “Our religious traditions give us as the name of God two deeply mysterious words, one deeply mysterious utterance: I AM.” In other words, why the Hell am I here, who am I, why is anything here, and what does it all mean?

OK, that’s it for now.

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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 good day in church today. I always get turned on there. It starts slow. Very few people. You wonder if anyone will show up. We had a full complement of people for the choir. Four women in the front row. Three men and one woman in the back row. This let us do a four part round. It was a little shaky but we got silent clapping from Becky. For introit we did a Jubilate Deo. Great fun to hit that. I enjoyed singing it.

Mind you this is a UU church with Universalist leaning. We’ve added about six or seven people this year. I think there were close to forty people in attendance today, counting the choir. We’re all very informal. Lots of candles lit. I lit one for son Christopher, saying today would have been his 52nd birthday.

There’s a lot more I could say. I could get into the personalities. People are all friendly and enjoy one another during coffee hour, before church, and even during. There were about ten people at the social concerns meeting during coffee hour. I didn’t attend — being treasurer is enough — and chatted with various people.

I’ve decided to learn “One More Circle” by Peter Mayer, arr. Jim Scott, for the Open Mic this Friday. It’ll be the seventh anniversary. Heather started it the end of January 2002. See an earlier post on the fourth anniversary for background. It’s amazing how time flies.

OK, that’s it for now. Over and out.

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We had a great Mem Day service in church today. That’s our UU church in Norway, Maine, pretty small as churches go, but we’ve picked up great enthusiasm in the last few weeks. Not sure why. But there you are. But getting back to the service today: Richard (that’s our minister) was in great form and had some wonderful thoughts. The thing about him is that he’s a regular person, not at all remote as some ministers, with their egos, tend to be. I get along with him great. He’s got a self-effacing sense of humor, just like me. But getting back to his thoughts, he emphasized memories, memorials, throughout the service. We were all asked to speak out and mention names of loved ones who have passed away. Many people spoke out. We must have had a good 25, maybe 30 people in attendance today. Our music went well too. Heather, our music director, led us in an enchanting and mesmerizing anthem about the Goddess, our returning, etc. Right now as I write this I can’t remember the details. So much happened today, I just can’t reproduce specifics. But we did pick up a new church member today, a very nice person named Trudi, didn’t get her last name. Our Growth Group met after church and Trudi became a new member of that. “An Inconvenient Truth” was shown at 1pm for those who hadn’t seen it. And now people are chatting and laughing upstairs while Clarissa and Eryn prepare supper so that Cynthia doesn’t have to do it.

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