Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more;
but they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree, and none shall make them afraid.
-- Micah 4:3-4


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Vine and Fig Tree

January 2011

Happy 2011 to the growing number of Friends of Adin Ballou!

And welcome to Paul Hull who is the new permanent minister at the Hopedale Unitarian Parish where Adin Ballou and our charter member Dick Drinon served.

Friends of Adin Ballou contributed $50.00 toward refurbishing the Ninth Bell at Hopedale Unitarian Parish. Originally donated by Friends of Adin Ballou in 1910, the Ninth Bell plays the note D# and is inscribed "I ring the memory of the lovers of peace." On December 12th, a ceremony was held at the church to rededicate the chime of bells after a $35,000.00 restoration project. The generous donations and fund-raising efforts of the parish, which Adin Ballou served as its first minister, have ensured that the bells will be enjoyed for another century.
Important news for us is the discovery of the many writings of Abby Hills Price, whom Adin Ballou correctly named "the poet laureate of the Hopedale Community."

Abby was first and foremost a feminist and a Christian feminist at that. She was friends with Lucy Stone, Abby Kelley Foster, Paulina Davis and many other womenís rights activists of her day. She gave a rousing speech for womenís liberation at the first National Womens Rights Convention in Worcester in 1850. And she spoke again at the Convention in 1851. She also spoke in Syracuse at the third national convention and again in New York City in 1853 shortly after she left Hopedale.

While she was a student at Andover Newton Theological School back in 1998, Susan LaMar wrote her thesis on Abby: The Poetry, Politics, and Pophecy of Abby Hills Price. Susan is now a Unitarian Universalist minister in Ellicott City MD and she has given us permission to share her work. When I contacted her she also gave me leads on what happened to Abby when she left the Hopedale Community under a cloud in 1853.

Two recent books shed light on what happened to the poet. After leaving Hopedale, Abby and her family joined the Raritan Bay Colony in New Jersey and lived there until it dissolved three years later. Then she moved to Brooklyn where she and her daughter became intimate friends with the family of Walt Whitman family, both mother and son. Walt published Leaves of Grass in 1855 and he met Abby Hills Price in 1856. From then on he included women on an equal status in all his writings and talks.

Abby corresponded with Walt Whitman while he lived in Washington and he often visited and stayed with her family. She is described by one of Whitmanís biographers as "one of Whitmanís dearest confidantes." That relationship is described in a book, Walt Whitman and the 19th Century Women Reformers by Sherry Ceniza (University of Alabama Press, 1998). The second chapter of 50 pages documents their relationship. The first chapter is devoted to Waltís mother. The book contains a picture (the only one) of Abby.

Susan LaMar also produced a booklet entitled "The Works of Abby Hills Price" in which her poetry written while at Hopedale is collected. Because we have very little record of the women who participated in the community, Abby and her artistry are all the more valuable.

Thank you Susan LaMar for sharing your work.

Member and our mentor, Michael True of Worcester, MA, sends us an announcement of his new video: The American Tradition of Nonviolence --- 17th Century to the Present. It is an 80 minute presentation in 3 parts. It is available to view, copy or download --- and free for the taking. Go to: American Tradition of Nonviolence

Mike gave the very first FAB lecture in the Bancroft Library back in 2000. His title was the same so he has been working on this topic for a long time. Congratulations, Mike on making this most important information available to the next generation via the web.

Marcia Matthews set up our gift-giving display at the Bancroft Library over the holiday season. Thank you Marcia for making the books and pamphlets accessible to todayís Hopedale community.

The Bancroft Library Director Ann Fields has made many improvements to the local library. The latest is the redecoration of the downstairs community room. With new paint and a new rug the room has been transformed into a bright and cheerful room for meeting and discussion. Perhaps in the near future we will sponsor a nonviolence film festival beginning with Mike Trueís video.

Lynn Hughes reports from Canada that she has completed her latest publication: The History of the Hopedale Community by Adin Ballou. This inexpensive paperback is a large step forward in making the early community better known. The hardcover version, of which there is one circulation copy in the library, originally cost 60 plus dollars and is out of print.

Peter and Lynn Hughes are working on Ballouís autobiography and hope to bring that out in an affordable annotated edition in 2011. Needless to say these original documents are invaluable in our efforts to spread the word about Adinís contribution to American thought.

FAB member, Joe Brennan passed on last summer at age 92. Joe was a great reciter of poems and he missed our peace poetry event last summer. He suggested this poem be read and it is printed here in his memory.

There will come Soft Rain

Sara Teasdale

There will come soft rain and the smell of the ground,
And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;

And frogs in the pools singing at night,
And wild plum-trees in tremulous white;

Robins will wear their feathery fire
Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire.

And not one will know of the war, not one
Will care at last when it is done.

Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree,
If mankind perished utterly.

And Spring herself when she woke at dawn,
Would scarcely know that we were gone.

Since January seems to be the month designated to celebrate Nonviolence and Peace-making, I include the following:

Ahimsa means "lacking any desire to kill." Gandhi felt is it our sacred duty to nonviolently oppose injustice, putting fear aside and willingly enduring the consequences of our actions.

Our ahimsa is violated or disrupted by negative thinking, unnecessary haste, anxiety, lying, hatred, wishing ill to anyone, harming the environment, unhealthy eating habits, ignoring the needs of others, and holding on to possessions the world needs.

Meditation helps us to deepen our nonviolent attitudes so that we no longer harm ourselves or others. Letís try to find a way of living in harmony with creation.

"If we want peace, we ourselves must be peace."

-- Jeanne Kinney