GNL number 117

a report of doings at meeting #117, Sunday, April 9, 2017


“It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness.” Chinese Proverb & Eleanor Roosevelt
“Faith is the bird that feels the light when the dawn is still dark.” ~Rabindranath Tagore


Marge opened with 2 ways she and Don make sure they bring light into their lives:

  1. The tour group Overseas Adventure Travel which has helped them explore wonderful places around our planet. They’ll be off on another journey in May to see the tulips blooming in Holland and then moving on to other nations.
  2. The interesting workshops they attend on the SUNY Cobl campus sponsored by the Schoharie County Home of Ongoing Learning.

Then she shared 6-wordies:

  • “In that forest, I can wander.”
  • “The gardener of the World, Sun.”
  • “Wherever you go, there you are.”

Gail also shared 6-wordies to convey thoughts on darkness & light.

  • Reddish blond hair, descends on country.
  • Friends help heal wounds of darkness.
  • Winter gray light. Snow brings Bright.
  • Are we sleeping with hopeful wishing?
  • Black birds eating on snowy morning.
  • Dark black cave. Bright sun opening.
  • Rain water mud—wet smell dog.
  • This morning—Sun, Birds & Friends.

Ann shared a childhood memory of watching the Dick Van Dyke show as he impersonated a tulip bulb sprouting from beneath the soil—with much spitting and spewing of dirt from his mouth as he pushed his way through darkness into the light. She still thinks of it most springs as she walks through her garden to see the tulip bulbs sending up their first leaves.

Sue shared quotations and commented on how they helped her see that darkness and light are two sides of one reality, and the ways personal experiences and public events affect our sense of the world in terms of darkness or light. Since Passover was approaching she told how the story of the Hebrews’ escape from Pharaoh & slavery in ancient Egypt including the plagues of darkness & the night of the deaths of the 1st-born sons has been interpreted by many Rebbes as finding our way through our inner darknesses to the light of connection with all that is beauti-ful/righteous/wondrous when we open to true presence with each other and the cosmos. See Quotations in Afterwords.

Cynthia sent this note to summarize her very moving report to us of Michael’s recent parole hearing: “Let me start out by saying THANK YOU ALL! The love and support of this little ‘church’ is so amazing.
Our hearing on March 22nd for Michael’s parole was not the miracle we hoped for-BUT- it is the path from darkness into light and we are thankful to be granted this opportunity. Michael was recommended for transfer to another facility where he could take part in more programs. After he is transferred from Martin Correctional to Sumter Correctional, Michael will FINALLY have a chance to enroll in re-entry classes, will be given more privileges and —  we HOPE — he will connect with people he can trust and follow to the gate of release and redemption. We are looking at 3 more years before his next — and I hope his final — hearing. I am sure that the thoughts and prayers from our extensive network of family and friends has surrounded us with a cushion to break the fall and we are ready to bounce back for the next round!!
I did have a “6 wordie” poem to offer:
Turn your face to the sun
A brand new day has begun
Skippy meetings always make me feel so much better emotionally, and I expect to feel much better physically now! AND…. my ‘uncomic’ BOOK OF DAZE continues- I know we will survive this administration because of communities like Skippy, Peacemakers and so many other pockets of humanity!”

Nancy who felt too ill to be with us sent this message for our newsletter: “Wish I’d been with you guys, and later I did get to feeling better enough to go for a little walk in the beautiful afternoon.” Here’s a few quotations w/ comments:

  • “In order for the light to shine so brightly, the darkness must be present.” ~Sir Francis Bacon. (NS—Yes, as night into day, both parts of the whole—so darkness into light.)
  • “Truly, it’s in darkness that one finds the light, so when we are in sorrow, then this light is nearest of all to us.” ~Meister Eckhart. (NS—Maybe we need the quiet of night to hear, feel, see more clearly and deeply our dark fears and denied pains, so we can find more power to face and deal with them as part of this life.)
  • “At times, our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” ~Albert Schweitzer. (NS—I think no day of mine passes without such a rekindling, by family, friend, or yes, stranger, who’ve given me their presence, eyes and ears, and even kindness unexpected.)
  • “To love beauty is to see light.” ~Victor Hugo. (NS—And this has been true for me, a path out of darkness. Not only music—whistling and singing and dancing, but seeing and being in the beauty of the big natural world, and surrounding myself with signs of nature too—like rocks and leaves, as you know.)

OUR OFFERING of $100 today was taken by Cynthia to support Michael’s Parole Advocate Ken in his work for all inmates. To learn more about that work, visit Ken Cooper Prison Ministries, Jacksonville Florida.


“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” ~Martin Luther King, Jr
“There is a crack in everything; that’s how the light gets in.” ~Leonard Cohen


Sunday, May 21, 2017, 10:30 am, at Ann Adams’ home at 107 Pavillion Ave., Sharon Springs. (Gail will be backup location–we’ll let you know) The subject is “Time & Change As We (S)age”



  • It is very nice to think;
  • Beat the drum, here we come!
  • Gail: What’s to come—sadness not knowing.
  • Light Spring Family—Friends Nature Outdoors.
  • Dark feelings future—Politics population world.
  • Chinese at Mano Largo—Trump’s personal property.
  • Discussion on information—Educational & action.
  • We thought Bush was a King.
  • Is this a preamble to doom?
  • Singing of frogs on spring night.
  • Shock, disbelief fear—Sadness and hope.
  • Bomb white death—white snow softness.
  • Darkness of fear—Light of Reason.
  • Evening with Virginia—fun with games.
  • Life goes on no matter what.
  • Back and forth—what life is.

Sue: Quotations:

  • “Knowing your own darkness is the best method for dealing with the darknesses of other people.” ~Carl Jung
  • “In order for the light to shine so brightly, the darkness must be present.” Francis Bacon
  • “What interests me is the sense of the darkness that we carry within us, the darkness that’s akin to one of the principal subjects of the sublime – terror.” Anish Kapoor
  • “You can’t study the darkness by flooding it with light.” Edward Abbey
  • “All great and beautiful work has come of first gazing without shrinking into the darkness.” John Ruskin

“Someone I loved once gave me
a box full of darkness.

It took me years to understand
that this too, was a gift.” ~ Mary Oliver, “Thirst”

  • “Yet, no matter how deeply I go down into myself, my God is dark, and like a webbing made of a hundred roots that drink in silence.” ~Rainer Maria Rilke, The Selected Poetry
  • “When you light a candle, you also cast a shadow.” ~Ursula K. Le Guin
  • “In the beginning there was nothing. God said, “Let there be light!” And there was light. There was still nothing, but you could see it a whole lot better.” ~Ellen DeGeneres


  • “I am in the world feeling my way to light ‘amid the encircling gloom’.” ~Mahatma Gandhi
  • “Night brings our troubles to the light rather than banishing them.” ~Seneca

GNL number 116

a report of doings at meeting #116, Sunday, March 12, 2017

including liturgical items, major themes. and other odds and ends


It is spring again. The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart.

—–Rainer Maria Rilke

Can words describe the fragrance of the very breath of spring?

—–Neltje Blanchen

First a howling blizzard woke us,

Then the rain came down to soak us,

And now before the eye can focus,


—–Lilja Rogers


Nancy opened this meeting on SPRING Forward/Forth/Ahead, seeing it as coming forth, through change, into a new place. Much needed by her, and she thought, by America. She was hearing a voice saying not only rise up out of this wind and cold, but out of our Delirium Tremens national nightmare—can we come through into the daylight of a national awakening, and confront life in present and past America. Sounded like a prayer, and a vow, to become real citizens of the US, and of the earth. A new birth, maybe? See AfterWords for N and Q.

Ann had lots of quotes, 6-wordies too, and recalled a very strong, positive memory from her childhood in Connecticut. The scene she pictured for us was of her and her mother working in her family’s large, well-treed yard in the fresh early spring to clear the way for drainage, and otherwise take care of the land. And she strongly remembered as well how much this meant to her mom, and said it was one of her own fondest memories of mom and home.

Gail was keenly aware of the seasons as change, and said she was reminded of the changes now going on in her family. Just back from a visit in Florida with her mom and dad, who’ve recently had serious health issues, and then learning of her sister’s serious illness, Gail has been reminded that she can help. And as someone who’s spent much time outdoors, and in different parts of the country, she spoke of learning to appreciate subtle changes in season even in the mostly warm southern states.

Sue gave us the benefit of her word research, including spring as water, and as spiral in some tools, and then from her Torah studies, the living waters in the Mikveh purifying rituals. She also brought a Billy Collins poem and one of her own, and read several topical quotes, including some surprising ones about spirals, for instance from Goethe and others, about the progress of civilization, that seemed might be speaking to us in today’s world. See AW for her N and Q.

Marge spoke of how she wouldn’t want to be without the four seasons we have here, even with all this recent cold and wind. And she gave special appreciation for spring’s vernal equinox name that’s explanatory of what happens, with the sun crossing the equator, with day and night equal. And she even sang us a stirring rendition of that wonderful part of the musical Carousel, that celebrates the seasons and culminates in the rousing “June is Busting Out All Over!”

Our offering today was taken by Sue, to be given to an organization for refugee assistance.


Dead my old fine hopes

And dry my dreaming but still….

Iris, blue each spring.

—–Basho Matsuo

Spring: the music of open windows.

—–Terry Guillemets


Sunday, April 9, 2017, at Marge’s home at 113 Prospect St., Cobleskill. The subject is Through the Dark, Into the Light, and 6wordies, if you like.


from Nancy

Music comes from an icicle as it melts, to live again as

spring water. —–Henry Williamson

Every spring is the only spring—a perpetual astonishment.

—–Ellis Peters

Despite the forecast, live like it’s spring.

—–Lilly Pulitzer

And some signs of spring I especially love:

the birds, singing and chittering,

the air, so distinctly fresh and new,

the smiles we’re all wearing,

and the clothes we’re not!

from Ann

a kidhood memory:

Spring has sprung, the grass has riz,

I wonder where the flowers is.

Some people say the bird is on the wing,

But that’s absurd,

The wing is on the bird.

Robin in the Late Afternoon

The window’s open, so I hear

each crystal note. Even with eyes closed,

I know a robin when I hear one,

telling the air between us how happy he is

about the soft rain and its summons

to the worms in the dark underground.

A pause. And then he sings again

from a more distant branch, but just as clear.

Or is it his mate? No matter, it’s a robin song,

a shower for the heart. I am no worm.

I do not tunnel under sod. But I am called,

beckoned into fresh hopefulness.

Bless God for birds, their vowels

pure and persuasive as spring rain.

—–Luci Shaw, 5/20/13

Spring verse from the Old Farmer’s Almanac:

One swallow does not make a spring.

Bluebirds are a sign of spring; warm weather and gentle south breezes they bring.

In spring, no one thinks of the snow that fell last year.

Don’t say that spring has come until you can put your foot on nine daisies.

Spring-time sweet! The whole earth smiles, thy coming to greet.

When spring came, even the false spring, there were no problems except where to be happiest. The only thing that could spoil a day was people and if you could keep from making engagements, each day had no limits. People were always the limiters of happiness except for the very few that were as good as spring itself.—–Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast

If people did not love one another, I really don’t see what use there would be in having any spring. —–Victor Hugo, Les Miserables

          It’s spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you’ve got it, you want—oh, you          don’t quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!—–Mark Twain

Spring work is going on with joyful enthusiasm.—–John Muir, The Wilderness World

My seasons:

Autumn is a vividly colorful denouement,

Winter is stripped down bare essentials,

Spring is herky/jerky disappointment/hope,

Summer is bountiful busyness.

Spring is a block of days on the calendar,

Yet it comes in fits and starts.

Our lungs and minds are refreshed with

Hope and cheer, plans and dreams.

Then blustery snow squalls punish us

And winter’s grip lingers to traumatize us.

But the light is changing,

The yellow of the willows is brightening

And we wait for the inevitable,

And it is so worth the wait.

Six wordies:

Spring doesn’t stand still for anything.

We can’t do without spring’s promise.

Molting, shedding, sloughing off is spring.

Spring comes slowly, goes too fast.

from Sue

Entymology–spring (n.2) Look up spring at
“source of a stream or river, flow of water rising to the surface of the earth from below,” Old English spring “spring, source, sprinkling,” from spring (v.) on the notion of the water “bursting forth” from the ground. Rarely used alone in Old English, appearing more often in compounds, such as wyllspring “wellspring,” espryng “water spring.” Figurative sense of “source or origin of something” is attested from early 13c. Cognate with Old High German sprung “source of water,” Middle High German sprinc “leap, jump; source of water.”

“Daylight saving time: Only the government would believe that you could cut a foot off the top of a blanket, sew it to the bottom, and have a longer blanket.” – Anonymous
“When you drink the water, remember the spring.”  Chinese Proverb
“In seed time learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy.”  ~ William Blake

Thinking about springs (as in a tool or machine)–got to googling “spiral” quotations:
“The spiral in a snail’s shell is the same mathematically as the spiral in the Milky Way galaxy, and it’s also the same mathematically as the spirals in our DNA. It’s the same ratio that you’ll find in very basic music that transcends cultures all over the world.”  ~Joseph Gordon-Levitt

“The stream of civilisation flows on like a river: it is rapid in mid- current, slow at the sides, and has its backwaters. At best, civilisation advances by spirals.” ~Sabine Baring-Gould
“Progress has not followed a straight ascending line, but a spiral with rhythms of progress and retrogression, of evolution and dissolution.”  ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
“Modern man must descend the spiral of his own absurdity to the lowest point; only then can he look beyond it. It is obviously impossible to get around it, jump over it, or simply avoid it.”   ~ Vaclav Havel

Talking about the “Living waters” in Torah, and other myths about watering holes inhabited by spirits (demons & gift givers)—–Waters of Life, Miriam’s Well and other Wells in Torah

Jewish uses of the Mikveh– Most forms of impurity can be nullified through immersion in any natural collection of water. However, some impurities….require “living water,” such as springs or groundwater wells. Living water has the further advantage of being able to purify even while flowing, as opposed to rainwater which must be stationary in order to purify. The mikveh is designed to simplify this requirement, by providing a bathing facility that remains in ritual contact with a natural source of water.  ……………..The existence of a mikveh is considered so important in Orthodox Judaism that an Orthodox community is required to construct a mikveh before building a synagogue, and must go to the extreme of selling Torah scrolls or even a synagogue if necessary, to provide funding for the construction.[6]

Read “Water Table” by Billy Collins –

My own poem:

The Wave/Walking on the water

by Susan Fantl Spivack
This is what it looks like:

You are in the water— you

are drowning or you are

struggling to the surface, you

are swimming through yourself—you

are not walking

on the water—you

are pulling yourself

through wetness, you are lifting

your interior ocean

above the other drowning

ocean.  You give a name

to this, you call it

miracle, call it ecstasy,

call it wisdom.  It happens

or it doesn’t happen

every day of your life.


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