Heard and got wrong

By David Grima | Apr 30, 2021

It is with great joy that I report a change in the status of the broken South End clock at the corner of Water Street and (South) Main.

I am beside myself with glee to be able to reveal to the world that it is no longer broken and stuck at 11:50. It is now broken and stuck at 12:25.

Whether this is a.m. or p.m. I do not know, although I doubt it matters too much.

This is definite progress, and the city should be congratulated for having advanced our common cause by 35 pointless minutes.

Or, has the clock actually been turned back 11 hours and 25 minutes, instead? My poor brain aches at the calculations involved in arriving at this possible explanation. I had to take off my left sock to work it out, as I had run out of fingers and thumbs.

* * * * *

Last Friday was the anniversary of Mr. Shakespeare’s birth and death, as is supposed to be the situation. I wonder if he lived long enough if he could have written much of a play about the people who walk around Rockland in freezing winds wearing short pants, as has already happened in town.

Much Ablow about Nothing?

There are always several people who put on their shorts this time of year every year, and I salute them, but have no intention of following suit.

* * * * *

Personally, I am delighted to learn that Sherman’s is opening a book store this summer at the former rent-to-own place behind Subway. It will replace the one that closed in Camden last year when the plague hit.

In the last 30 years or more, that spot has also variously been used as a video store, a Rite-Aid and a LaVerdiere’s, to the best of my faulty memory.

As far as I am concerned, you cannot have too many bookstores in a town, and I think Sherman’s, which sells new books, will work nicely with Hello Hello Books downtown that sells mostly used books. But also some new.

I can’t wait for either of them to get their doors open. Not being able to browse the shelves at HH books for a year has been a serious degradation in my relationship to reading materials.

The idea of ordering books online from a store doesn’t work out very well for me, because I rely on finding the unexpected on bookshelves. I can’t very well place an online order for a book I have no idea about, which I would only have found if I was able to lurk productively among the shelves.

* * * * *

Last week’s piece of nonsense focused on the centuries-long struggle in this country between at least two conflicting ideas of what freedom really means. Is it the freedom of the individual that should be our top concern, or the freedom of the general community?

Since writing that stuff, a piece of an even more diverse perspective has floated to the surface of my mind, concerning the late Catholic monk Thomas Merton (1915-1968), who belonged to a Trappist community in Kentucky.

One afternoon, according to his own written testimony, he was on a street corner in downtown Louisville when he had a sudden vision where all the people around him seemed, in some remarkable way, transformed.

If I remember rightly, he realized he was seeing people in some way akin to the way God sees everyone, as eminently loved and equally valuable.

It’s a remarkable thing to have experienced, but quite in keeping with his calling as a monk who struggled to find a community that would take him in, yet who also struggled with the necessary religious discipline required of a monk at the time.

There is little else to say about this that will not already be immediately clear to most of us. But there is one emphasis I wish to illuminate.

According to common-or-garden religion these days, at least half of us are wicked and will be sent to hell to boil in oil for eternity. Maybe even more than half. Yet time and again we find hints in our culture, past and present, that God is pleased to love people of all sorts. In other words, it’s not over until it’s over, and there is great hope for all of us.

I think we could do more to reflect on this idea, and try to be less judgmental about people who are always being judged. Also, perhaps we could try to be a little less smug and self-satisfied with our own condition.

Such a view of people flies in the face of the way we generally live and conduct our daily affairs, especially in politics.

Of course, it always has.

* * * * *

Last week, I mentioned something about the Farnsworth museum and its original benefactor, Lucy Farnsworth, that turns out to be untrue.

Based on information I have received since then, I now believe admission to the museum is free to Rockland residents because of a long-standing decision made by the director and board of trustees, and not because Lucy stipulated it in her will, where she bequeathed an estate worth $1.3 million upon her death in 1935, to create the museum and art library.

I do have a dim idea where I might have picked up the wrong idea, and I will have to chase it down and try to figure out why I have believed this for a length of time. It is written (I’d better be right this time) that in her will Lucy stipulated that the family homestead be open to the public. Perhaps this is the basis of what I heard and got wrong?

There is a movie from which I have watched a snippet on YouTube, called “The Farnsworth: Lucy's Gift, Rockland's Treasure”, which is well worth watching to get an idea of the atmosphere surrounding Lucy, and a sense of what people at the time thought about her, as she continued to wear her dark and plain Victorian clothes well into the 20th century, living thriftily and quietly on her own.

I wonder what she would have made of the concrete towers at the foot of Mechanic Street, where I am forced to live? I think she would have understood only too well.

David Grima is a former editor with Courier Publications. He can be reached at davidgrima@ymail.com.

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Comments (2)
Posted by: ANANUR FORMA | May 01, 2021 15:27

Love what you shared about Thomas Merton's experience. Thank you.

Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Apr 30, 2021 08:40

Love it, David!  "Yet time and again we find hints in our culture, past and present, that God is pleased to love people of all sorts. In other words, it’s not over until it’s over, and there is great hope for all of us."

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