This gravestone, commemorating John Safford who died in 1782, stands in the old burying ground off the town common in Harvard, Massachusetts. The poetry at the bottom is two verses from Isaac Watts’s metrical version of Psalm 39:3, part three. As rendered by the gravestone carver, it reads as follows:
Crush’d as a moth beneath thy hands
We moulder to the dust;
Our feeble pou’rs can ne’er withstand
And all our beuty’s lost.
This mortal life decays apace
How soon the bubble’s broke
Adam and all his numerous Race
Are vanity and smoke.
Over in the U.K., Metropolitan Police head Sir Paul Stephenson resigned yesterday, and Met Police Assistant Commissioner John Yates has just announced that he too is resigning. I’m watching a live press conference on the BBC Web site with Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London. The press are asking very pointed questions, like sharks circling bloody meat. “Do you regret being so whole-heartedly in support of the Murdochs?” “Er, well, in light of what New of the World … democracy … we’ve begun … nothing has been proved, by the way, against any of these officers … blah blah blah.” “It is a question of your judgement that is in question as well here, as mayor of London.” “I gave an answer based on what I knew then … blah blah blah [defensive coverage of his rear end]….” “Do you apologize mocking the people who brought this up, those people who were right all along?’ No he doesn’t, next question please.
I asked Dad yesterday about this Murdoch phone hacking mess. Dad’s father was a newspaperman, so Dad has been watching the news business for a long time. Dad’s answer: “Murdoch is worse that Hearst.” That’s really bad. So it’s looking like British democracy is owned by the rich corporations just as is American democracy, which is a chilling thought.
I’m posting a link to the sermon I gave this morning in the Concord, Massachusetts, church so that Susi can argue with me about it. Here’s the link.
A score of ten or better on this checklist is required for satisfactory completion of week-long stay on New England coast.
Walked along beach and picked up shells — check
Clambered over rocks on a jetty or breakwater — check
Ate fried clams (fresh, tender, and sweet, not the frozen crap you get inland) while sitting on beach — check
Sat in rocking chair on porch and looked at ocean — check
Got too much sun — check
Ate lobster roll (with identifiable claw meat, not that chopped up crap that you get inland) — check
Conversed in eastern New England dialect — check
Took afternoon naps — check
Got drenched in a sudden squall — check
Had weather cool enough to need a jacket, and hot enough to sweat while sitting still — check
Watched guys fishing for stripers and not catching anything — check
Watched seagulls and terns fishing and catching a lot — check
Moonrise over Camp Ellis, Maine
Dear Ms. M.,
Saw the moon come up over Saco Bay tonight. Sat on the beach and ate fried clams from Huot’s, and watched the moon change from pink to pale orange to gold.
Wish you were here,
The “Sustainable World Radio” podcast recently interviewed my partner Carol about composting toilets. here’s part one of the interview, and here’s part two.
I was coming back from a long walk down the beach to see if there were any Piping Plovers nesting at Goosefare Brook, looking down at my feet in the fading light to see if there were any interesting shells or stones worth picking up. Ahead of me, a man was aiming a camera with a large telephoto lens on a tripod at something. I looked in the direction his camera was pointed, and there was the moon rising up out of the Atlantic Ocean. If the moon is about 30 arcminutes wide, it was about 90 arcminutes above the surface of the ocean when I first looked. It was pink and a little brighter than the medium blue sky; it hung just above a distant line of darker blue clouds tipped with pink along their tops.
The moon sat in the sky above the gap between Eagle Island and Wood Island. As I walked on down the beach, past the man struggling to aim his camera, the moon appeared to move towards Wood Island, until it stood over the eastern end of the island. The last light of the sun lit up the distant white tower of Wood Island lighthouse; a long shimmering reflection of the moon shone in the waters of the bay.
A couple of hours later, I was on the beach with forty or fifty other people for a bridging ceremony for this year’s high school seniors in the youth program at the Ferry Beach religious education conference; these were youth I had watched grow up summer after summer; one of them was the daughter of someone who had been in my own high school youth group. The moon was high in the sky; a long white reflection of it brightened up the calm bay; it was almost bright enough to read by. The air was cool enough to require a jacket and to keep the mosquitoes away, and two foot waves crashed regularly on the beach below us. What a perfect night, said the person next to me.
Walking down the beach this afternoon, I paused to watch a Herring Gull flying along with something in its mouth. It landed near me, and dropped a good sized crab on the sand. The crab landed on its legs and started to scuttle away, but after fumbling once, the gull expertly flipped the crab on its back. The crab weakly waved its legs in the air while the gull tilted its head on one side so it could look at the crab with one eye.
I walked over so I could better see the crab. The gull kept an eye on me, and when I got within ten feet of it, it flapped its wings, rose in the air, and settled down twenty feet away, screeching at me. The body of the crab was a good four or five inches across — perhaps a foot across with the legs. With the toe of my shoe, I flipped it over to get a better look. The upper side of the carapace was a reddish-brown color, so it was probably Cancer irroratus or Cancer borealis. The crab plowed its head end into the sand and began to move slowly and feebly along. I walked about twenty feet away, and turned to watch.
When I was a safe distance away, the gull flew back in. Again, it expertly flipped the crab onto its back. Then it stabbed sharply into the crab’s vulnerable underside; the crab’s legs waved feebly; the gull stabbed again; and once more, on this last stab bringing a chunk of flesh up. The crab’s legs twitched a little. The gull flipped its head back and swallowed the piece of flesh, then stabbed again and again. The gull was a messy eater, and little chunks of carapace and flesh and bits of leg got scattered around on the sand. The crab had stopped moving by this point. I left the gull to its dinner, and walked on down the beach.
Someone introduced me to My Cookie Project. This isn’t a recipe blog, although blogger K. Grober provides links to the recipes, usually on the Martha Stewart Web site. I’d call it a documentary blog: using photos and text, the blog documents baking process, ingredients, cookies, taste and texture of the cookies, and sometimes the positive reaction of the local soup kitchen upon being given the gift of dozens of cookies. Of course a Unitarian Universalist blogger would give cookies to the local soup kitchen.
Here’s a link to an important paper by Rev. Christana Wille-McKnight on how few of our Unitarian Universalist children and youth we retain once they grow up — “The problem of retention in Unitarian Universalism.” Here’s the first paragraph of the paper, to get you interested:
Over the last 40 years, Unitarian Universalism has emerged as a transformative movement in the United States. Our denomination has become a haven for people from a variety of faith backgrounds, well regarded for its acceptance of people regardless of race, creed, ethnicity, sexual orientation or physical or mental ability. Despite our success in welcoming people from other faiths into the Unitarian Universalist fold, we have not been as successful retaining as adult members people who have been raised from childhood as Unitarian Universalists. The cost of losing so many of the adult children that are raised in our faith is staggering….
This is for participants in the Renaissance module on ministry with youth that I am co-leading with Betty-Jeanne Rueters-Ward at Ferry Beach this week. Christana is now working on a UU church start in Norton, Massachusetts.