To the Editor:
Last Saturday there was a memorial service at the Unitarian Universalist Society on upper Main Street, Vineyard Haven. The gathering of family and friends was for John Ebbs, an unduplicated person. Several spoke up about their experiences with John. A few brought down the house with laughter. They all loved him, and I think they all feel lucky. I’m one of them.
Near the end of the hour, Peter Boak led the whole congregation in the singing of Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus. I never thought of this piece to be sung at a memorial service, but it was effective. If the Church doors were open, they heard us at Five Corners.
I won’t go into all the remarkable things about his life and of his family, and of the many things he achieved, which were spoken of this day. Instead, I just want to mention what hit me as being unique about him.
Having had many conversations with John while driving him to the Monday night Island Community Chorus rehearsals at the high school (John’s eyesight wouldn’t permit him to drive), we had conversations about just about everything. One was spirituality.
Now, John was an inventor, an electrical engineer, a scientist of sorts, and he had ideas I admired. He thought clearly and thought deeply into everything he encountered in a gentle, unselfish way. And we did have a good time. And so now, in the spirit of good, simple, spirited belief, I’ll repeat the “Simple Gifts” that seem to fit this man.
‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free/’tis the gift to come down where you ought to be/and when we find ourselves in the place just right/it will be in the valley of love and delight/When true simplicity is gained/to bow and to bend we shan’t be ashamed/to turn, turn will be our delight/’til by turning, turning we come round right/’Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free/’tis the gift to come down where you ought to be/and when we find ourselves in the place just right/it will be in the valley of love and delight.
Good-bye, John, we are all grateful to have known you.
Phil DeCamp Fleischmann