speaking

This is a piece from the Guggenheim that I had not posted before. Writing about masks reminded me how much I liked it.

I prepared to read a story adapted from a blog post a few months ago.  It was for a very small storytelling symposium called Newton Speaks-voices of our city.  It was moderately attended,  there in the middle of the day on a Tuesday but nevertheless, I prepared.  Everyday for a week, I read the story out loud—such is the practice of an old stutterer preparing to speak in public.  I did the same when I’ve spoken in church over the past two years.  Those readings were mostly done via zoom, although I did read two poems on Christmas Eve in the church building.  Those readings of my own work and the work of some poets went well.  I felt I could be expressive and I was not overly concerned about my speech which was not perfect, but not bad.  This time, I was interested to see what I could do, how I might feel about the reading, how I judge my expression to be and my speech.  Everyone was still in masks. Recently, going without masks into a few places has got me thinking about more of the implications of mask wearing.  Apart from health concerns, masks hide, masks protect, masks make it hard at times to communicate which sometimes reduces the number of words spoken, ideas exchanged.  Masks hide reactions and expression.  And walking around the world masked can feel very safe and comfortable.  I hadn’t understood that before this pandemic.

What a still-crazy time this is!

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This I believe

On Sunday, March 14th, I delivered my This I believe to the congregation of FUUSN (First Unitarian Universalist Society in Newton). Had it been ordinary times, I would have done it standing the the pulpit looking over the congregation. I don’t know whether that would have have been more or less intimidating. As it was, I was safe in my little zoom box sitting in my study seemingly talking to myself. If you’ve read anything on this blog before, you will recognize ideas and passages. I am grateful that Erin asked me to do this and grateful that I was daring enough to say, ‘yes.’

Good morning.

I hesitated when Erin [Erin Splaine is FUUSN’s minister] asked me to speak today.  After all, I still count my FUUSN membership in months, and I’ve gotten to know so many of you, not in person, but in these little zoom boxes. That could make me just a bit shy about sharing my heart today. And then, I write all the time about what I do and think, but I don’t think I have many conclusions. “This I believe” sounds, at least to me, like the speaker has come to a few conclusions.  Of course, we ask our COA teens to take up this task and they always do it brilliantly. But it seems to me that the older I get the fewer conclusions I have.

There is a line from my husband, David’s last play, the play that was performed a few months after his death. The line goes like this:

Just suppose you are now doing and have been doing for quite awhile exactly what it is you are supposed to be doing.

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