Part of a message given at Durham Friends Meeting, December 12, 2021
A Green Burial – Tom Frye, by Peter Crysdale
Someone asked me,
How did you find your way to Durham Meeting?
I answered, “Ralph brought me!”
He brought Tom Frye too… 40 years ago –
Both of us came and went and returned.
The other day Tommie Frye came back again,
In a simple pine box –
Laid in a hole at the Lunt –
Dug by his friends – next to Sukie, his friend
For all those years. He decided to do
What love does and give
His body back to Mother Earth
In the simplest of ways.
Back then – Tom came to the Parsonage with Ralph
To find his way, after a long hardship.
I came up on weekends –
Sitting at that table in the parsonage kitchen
Tom told of his life – his profound suffering –
He was neither bitter nor vengeful –
It was one foot after the other – hanging around
The Parsonage was an act of recovery,
An act of Love.
One year Tom was Santa at the Meeting
Christmas party – Ruth Graham thought
He was too tall To be Santa.
The next year she was Santa –
Made up and clothed so no
One could tell it was her –
I knew – so did Tom.
And that Halloween when Ralph got
Tom to lie down in an old sunken grave –
In the Cemetery behind the Parsonage.
Covered him with leaves – the kids
Came by with their flashlights in the dark –
Tom rose – they were terrified.
God’s mischief is Love in motion.
Remember the Spring kite-flying
Extravaganza in the Parsonage yard –
Tom and Ralph again –
Later every tree was festooned with a kite.
There was Petunia the Parsonage Pig –
Ralph brought her home –
Because the elders complained that there
Weren’t enough kids in the Meeting –
Ralph said he could train pigs –
Petunia would have none of it –
She lived in the Parsonage and got bigger
And bigger – first Day came and Ralph read
A chapter from Charlotte’s Web in Meeting,
A row of attentive kids looked on in wonder.
Worship is about being found by the love.
One First Day after a huge snowfall –
Three feet of snow – slid off
the roof of the Meetinghouse –
Landed with a HARUMPH!!!
The Worship Settled that day –
Someone told me
On another First Day, Tom,
Who rarely spoke in Meeting –
Sang Amazing Grace –
The Worship Settled.
We were slowly seasoned
by a Quaker cast of Characters –
Helen – Ruth and Lucy – Merton and Bea,
Charlotte and Mary – John Curtis – Clarabel and
Louis – Lyda Wentworth – oh so many others –
Seasoned means absorbing the Love.
I went off to Pendle Hill and Tom moved to Freeport –
Got a job – found a love –
Recovering takes a lifetime. Last week
Tom moved back- was buried in the Lunt –
We stood around tossing rose petals as we covered
His body with earth. Love welcomes us home.