Silence, solitude and simplicity along with conversation, family fun, and houseboat travel. A perfect combination.
Where is the silence, solitude and simplicity in a Memorial Day parade? Our town parade goes by our house and stops across the street at the library to commemorate the Civil War. Minute Men, Civil War soldiers and servicemen representing all the wars then continue marching to Wadsworth Cemetery to remember those in the Revolutionary War. By the time they arrive at the Town Center, the repeated firing of guns and the playing of ‘Taps” will have reminded us of all our country’s wars.
It’s a moving experience hearing the prayers with words of remembering and peace. It’s a distressing experience hearing the guns, with sounds of remembering and war. Sometimes it’s hard to understand where the peace is in it all. All those deaths echoed in “Taps”. And yet, there is something peacefully silent at that moment as we all simply stand in solitude.
As I’ve mentioned several times, I’m not much into following the news. Sure, maybe I just want to avoid all the sad stuff and live in bliss. My serious reason for staying away from the news, however, has to do with how I choose to spend my time, both physical and psychic. There are just so many hours in the day; my brain can take on just so many thoughts and ideas. I try to spend my time and energy doing some kind of good in the world. A news reporter, I am not. Generally speaking, the news doesn’t support my longing for silence, solitude and simplicity.
The girls abducted in Nigeria, nevertheless, have my attention. I’m reading about them and turning on the TV to try to understand and be informed. I can’t experience silence, solitude or simplicity if I ignore them. It’s as simple as that.
It’s time to return to the cottage. The good news is that there is no snow to shovel. The bad news? Well, there isn’t any. It’s all win-win, with solitude at the cottage and community at home. Very grateful.
This weekend my daughter and her husband were visiting. One evening we went to the Wayside Inn. The lore has it that George Washington stopped by there for a dram. A century later Henry Wadsworth Longfellow told and wrote ‘Tales of a Wayside Inn’ in the room across from the pub where we had a glass of wine. Over the years the inn experienced several fires, but Henry Ford came along, had it rebuilt and kept it going. These days it is a full-fledged, not-for-profit organization, with an inn keeper, trustees and volunteer Minutemen from Sudbury and surrounding towns greeting visitors at the door.
I try not to whine or complain in this blog. In fact I like to think I’m not that kind of person… but of course I’m like all the rest of us! Here’s my rant for today. This is the second morning this week that our neighborhood silence has been interrupted by leaf blowers across the street. The other morning at 7 AM they were at the library, today, 8:30 on a Sunday, at the little shopping center. The hum is deafening. Do I live near an airport?
I have to admit that we use a blower for our leaves. It’s the New England way. The leaf from the log is definitely in my own eye. Still, I hate the noise.
I’m about settled back into my home routine. Here are some of the solitary things going on with me.
First there are the little things: walking up at a reasonable time. This morning it was 5:30, my favorite and usual rising time. No more 4 AM until I travel again. Just too early.
Then there are the big things: The Pope in Assisi. It was just a week ago today that my daughter and I took the train from Florence to Assisi, preceding Pope Francis by four days, viewing the preparations in front of the Basilica of St. Francis. Regardless of your religious/spiritual stance, you have to be hopeful. Any talk about love and helping the poor has got to be good energy for the planet.
And of course there are the things in between: getting rid of some stuff in the parlor (I’ve reactivated my blog http://lettingofstuff.blogspot.com/) , my writing at the library, making apple sauce, and the Red Sox.
But right now off I’m to church to settle into the social routine of my life. Solitude and community, I need them both.
Today it was two chairs along the side of the road; rather nice ones; I bet they will be gone by tomorrow. The toilet seat isn’t there any more. I’ll never know what happened to it, but why should I care? Just some unnecessary curiosity to clutter my mind. In our neighbor, there seems to be an unwritten rule that if a roadside item isn’t claimed after a day or two, the owner takes it away--most likely to the dump or into their garage until they figure out what to do with it next.
It isn’t always simple to get rid of stuff but there is a rather lovely rhythm to this roadside giveaway.
“Where has all the silence gone, long time passing.” Well, after the rapid’s ride, a quiet has returned. In fact all twelve of us have sought our own little chunks of silence, solitude and simplicity. Half of the family group has dispersed and the other half are scattered about the house and yard.
Yesterday I took the T to Boston to have lunch with a friend from Spokane. Fox News was parked in front of MGH hoping, I presume, for a breaking news photo of John Kerry or Teresa Heinz.
The ride on the T felt unusually calming. But why? Since my last ride a few months ago, the MBTA has eliminated all the ways to ride without paying. As a start, only the front door is opened so everyone has to develop a little personal relationship with the conductor: pay, or show or scan your ticket. No more getting on in the back and pretending you have a pass. I watched the conductor refuse rides to several people; one had an invalid ticket, another said she only had a twenty, a third mumbled that he was in a hurry for an appointment. The conductor just pointed to the ticket kiosk on the platform and indicated that another train would be coming soon. In response to my ‘compliment’ about it, the conductor told me that there were no exceptions. “I got in trouble for letting a homeless person on free.”
I’m wondering what was so calming about the ride? Best I can come up with is that everyone was exuding honest energy--no nervous energy of the cheating variety.
I usually don’t write about individuals on this blog. My rule is not to tell stories about friends and family. An exception, of course, has been my mom. And today, another exception, Ginny Perkins, whose life will be celebrated later this morning at First Parish Church in town. The place will be packed with all of Ginny’s family and friends who loved her. You see, without reservation Ginny loved everyone right back and offered her generous spirit and smile to whomever found themselves walking with her along one of the many paths she traveled. There was always room along side her.
Ginny wasn’t a solitary type, but she knew how to find that silent place within her. Maybe it was through the yoga that she taught, which she did while sitting in a chair, right up until a month before she died. What an example of vibrant living from this women in her late 80s or early 90s!
In my last blog I wrote about the open-air memorial on Copley Square to the victims of the Boston bombing. When I was there, it felt that it had sprung up from the heart of every visitor and that that love continued to tend it day after day.
I now have some more information about this phenomenon. I quote from the First Parish of Sudbury Unitarian Universalist
327 Concord Rd., Sudbury, MA 01776 newsletter. The words are those of Interim Minister Rev. Tracey Robinson-Harris.
(For the full text of John Millspaugh’s reflection go to http://www.uuworld.org/life/articles/285333.shtml)
“The Rev. John Millspaugh was on Boylston Street recently. He writes, In front of a shuttered storefront, three small white wooden crosses stood with elegant simplicity, each bearing the name and picture of one of the three victims who died on April 15. . .adorned with ribbons and paper hearts, mementos and religious figurines . . . Because the police’s physical investigation was drawing to a close and Boylston Street would soon reopen, DPW workers were relocating the objects from the impromptu shrine to a larger one in Copley Square. At first, we passersby simply watched the DPW men as they loaded . . . items into their white van. Gradually . . . we flowed past barricades to help them with their holy labor. . . Both spectators and DPW workers seemed hesitant to remove the three wooden crosses standing alone on the granite sidewalk.
“The DPW official in charge, noticing the clergy garb John was wearing from a Standing on the Side of Love rally supporting immigration reform earlier that day, asked him to say a few words before the crosses were loaded and the shrine dissolved completely. John’s prayer ended with, “May we all be the rebuilders.” John continues.
“One of the DPW workers spoke softly to the official, who then turned to me and asked if I would carry Martin Richard’s cross to the van . . . I can’t describe the feelings that surged in me as I lifted the memorial to this 8-year-old boy. Sorrow, humility, and reverence for the sacred privilege come close. The destruction of that day cannot be undone. But it can be answered. Already we are busying ourselves with healing. . . There is much to do on a symbolic level. I’m beginning to ask myself how to move beyond the symbolic. I’ll be searching for ways to answer the destructive acts of these two individuals with actions grounded in my own highest values. I’ll be looking for ways that we, together, might re-consecrate sacred ground.
In the midst of our joy and our sorrow may we be (re)builders of the future.
(For the full text of John’s reflection go to http://www.uuworld.org/life/articles/285333.shtml)”
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4/30/15 Finishing up VG.