GNL number 1

A report on doings at meeting # 1, Sunday, July 8, 2007, including liturgical notes and major themes and odds and ends

INVOCATION:

I greet you, Day, with open arms,
With open eyes and ears,
And with soft hands, soft, tender hands,
I join you, Wondrous Day,
Wondrous Day, I join you.


SOME THEMES:

  1. Gratitude.
    This was maybe the biggest theme, as it seemed to run through the whole meeting—the recognition once we looked more closely, that our lives have been far richer than we’d noticed: there’d been many, many recent smiles, not only sweet, funny grandkids and glorious fresh air, but little things that sneak up on you like cooking split pea soup on a cool day to Brazilian music in the background, with hands cutting veggies and feet moving to the same rhythm. And outloud laughs too, as on discovering the website of our delightfully outrageous (and heroic) Rev. Billy and his Church of StopShopping. And more serious wake-ups, such as the moment when you realize some people who had been beeping one of your buttons (the one you feel when you’re not listened to but only talked at) were especially in need of being listened to and your listening could help more than you thought. And we remembered too the way the native Iroquois have daily given thanks many 100’s of years to all things in this life, in ritual and throughout the day as well, and we saw how that contrasts with our present “advanced” material society and wished to learn from that old, so superior way.

  2. Words.
    We were reminded how, though words are our basic tools, they can enslave us. How words are not things or facts, but only signs, approximations, in a name game. And how easy it is to get boxed in by them. We remembered feeling tempted before the military parade in May to think in terms of us and them, of them as opponent/ adversary/just a step away from enemy, when the truth(and the persons involved) couldn’t be that simple or neatly black and white. We were glad not to have got stuck in that mindset, glad to have been able to first talk and listen together through our own tangled thoughts, and then to have been able to have an open exchange with the parade organizers.

  3. Meditation.
    And we noted that meditation is not what we used to think it was (the effort to make your noisy mind get quiet, and if you couldn’t, you weren’t doing it right). Instead it turns out, to paraphrase Zen Buddhist master Thich Nhat Hanh and other teachers, it’s ok—everybody’s got that noisy monkey-mind; just notice the noise and return to watching yourself breathe. Also noted, the way meditation can be many things or many things can be meditative—not just sitting, but walking, cooking, eating, gardening, cleaning, drawing, sewing, singing, dancing—just about anything we do with real attention, or as TNH would say, with mindfulness.


SOME WISDOM QUOTED:

Today, like every other day,
We wake up empty and frightened.
Don’t open the door to the study
And begin reading.
Take down the dulcimer.
Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to
Kneel and kiss the ground.

—-Rumi

Hello, Babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. At the outside, Babies, you’ve got a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, Babies, “Goddamn it, you’ve got to be kind.”

—-Kurt Vonnegut, from God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater

Let us not love in word or speech, But in deed and in truth.

—-I John, 3:18

My own mind is my church.

—-Thomas Paine



BENEDICTION:

Today is done. Today was fun.
Tomorrow is another one.
And everyday, from here to there,
Funny things are everywhere.
Not one of them is like another.
Don’t ask me why. Go ask your mother.

—-Dr. Seuss


AND SOME AFTERWORDS:

The meeting was followed by a great potluck lunch out on the deck, and a bunch of fine ideas.

  1. Meeting#2–Sunday, August 5, at Cynthia and Ron’s new Camp Blenheim. Cynthia has a story to read to us.
  2. Meeting#3–Sunday, September 9, back at Nancy’s, 155 North. We’ll each bring a favorite children’s picture book to read.
  3. “Field trip”–August 18, to hear Thich Nhat Hanh in Boston (three of us have tickets).
  4. Future topics mentioned–Prayer (Jack), essays from magazines like ODE, Orion, and YES! (Gail and Nancy), as well as non-violence essays from Elliott.
  5. Other ideas percolating–possibility of short, quiet period at end of meeting, and possibility of music too.
  6. Agreed enthusiastically–Lunch a wonderful and essential thing!
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