GNL number 5


a report of doings at meeting # 5, Sunday, November 11, 2007
including liturgical notes, major themes, and odds and ends


Earth, our mother, breathe forth life,
all night sleeping, now awaking, in the east
now see the dawn.
Earth, our mother, breathe and waken,
leaves are stirring, all things moving, new day coming,
life renewing.
Eagle soaring, see the morning,
see the new mysterious morning, something marvelous and sacred, though it happens every day,
Dawn the child of God and Darkness.
—Pawnee prayer


As our discussion leader today, Sue asked that we share our RITUALS–religious or traditional, with others or alone, passed down or self-created—that have nourished us. And she began the sharing, saying she grew up in a family that didn’t have a religious practice, but that her ritual had grown out of her studies in recent years to retrieve her roots in Judaism. She showed us her morning handwashing ritual, done while repeating the aspiration that the works of her hands that day be acts of love and compassion. Sometimes this is done with her husband, each washing the other’s hands with the blessing, and with Sue’s help we did the ritual in pairs as well. She said the practice has been an act of intention to be mindful each day, and during her father’s decline and passing especially, this helped keep her from the grip of anxiety or robotic habit.

Cynthia told of the ritual she shared with her grandmother when she was a child; Cynthia had been a child with health problems and surgeries, and during this period they would have tea every night, just the two of them, and when the milk was added to C’s cup,her grandmother would watch the bubbles that formed on the top and tell her all the good things they meant for her, like a fortune telling. And even now, Cynthia says, making her coffee is like a warming ritual for her.

Jack, who said he’d also grown up in a home where no religion was practiced, described being attracted to the Quakers and their ritual-like meeting in silence until spirit moved some one to speak, and then later, on study of the Bible, coming to a more Christ-centered faith, and then to Catholicism, with its strong tradition of ritual and symbolism. He repeated for us the Christian gatha-type prayer he says often during the day:
Breathing in, I breathe in Christ; Breathing out, I breathe out Love;
Breathing in, I breathe in Christ, Breathing out, I breathe out Joy;
Breathing in, I breathe in Christ, Breathing out, I breathe out Patience.

Ann too reported growing up with no particular grounding in organized religion (but having the experience as a young person of attending Christian Science youth meetings with her good friend, and then later being in college with a CS roommate who suffered through illnesses without medical help and that making an impression). Ann, as someone who goes to work early, often sees the amazing starry sky, and the coming of the dawn, and this has seemed like a ritual of coming back in touch with the big picture. She said during summer vacation even when she doesn’t have to be up early, she likes to go out to meet the day.

Adair, also without a backgound in organized religion, touched on wisdom found in Ala-non group discussions, among which you find the idea of “Take what you can use”, and her discovery of the Unitarians’ creative youth education program. And noting the importance of symbolism in ritual, she described how symbols have figured strongly in her life. She explained that the name she adopted for herself means “of the mother”–in her mind, Mother Earth; and described her owl figures-the large one with great opening wings, and the tiny one who came later to fit perfectly under the big one’s sheltering wing, another symbol of nature as mother; and then her little house as well with its plentiful big windows that bring nature in.

Nancy could recall no rituals from her own childhood, but remembers fondly some as a parent: the nightly story-reading for years and years, long after all those kids could read. And the Christmas near-rituals: with the whole family, making molasses cookies (all kinds of whimsical shapes) to hang on the tree; and after everyone was asleep, staying up into wee hours to make the annual greeting cards. And still doing the annual music mix tape for family–Fragmenti Bizarro La Mama. She described two rituals she’s now done for years: the first, right out of bed before really oriented–writing “morning pages” for 15 minutes or so in a stream of consciousness hardly readable, but one that helps put her in the observing mode of mindfulness where she wants to live, not in the auto-pilot, striving, agenda-driven mode. The second, at bedtime, is writing again, “night notes”, which basically are a kind of thankyou for all of it, noticing the richness of the day with all its colors, bright and dark.


We give thanks to the Power that makesfor Meeting,
for our table has been a place of dialogue and friendship.
We give thanks to Life;
May we never lose touch with the simple joy
and wonder of sharing a meal.
—-Rabbi Rami M. Shapiro


NEXT TIME: Sunday, Dec. 9 (10:30), at Gail Sondergaard’s. Gail’s chosen the topic of Joy for our discussion.

DIRECTIONS: Take 88west/ Worcester exit, west on rte.7 through town. Turn right at the bank, Decatur St.; go 3 miles, to RED HOUSE on left.


We couldn’t let such a report pass without noting that standing vigil each Saturday is surely for many of us a ritual, one that declares to ourselves as well as to others our intention to do something for peace and justice; and needless to say, doing this together has been nourishing to us.

And it appeared many of us also wished to greet the day consciously, with some intentional act. Maybe we should add to the Field Trip Ideas listed below, a Dawn-Greeting Day some beautiful place in beautiful Schoharie County, followed by a nice breakfast, of course.

FIELD-TRIP IDEAS (another pump-priming list)

NEARBY–(Local / Capital District / Mohawk Valley)

  • Rev.Billy’s movie “What Would Jesus Buy?”, Troy (12/14 and 15)
  • Iroquois Museum / Mike Tarbell’s guided nature walk
  • Vrooman’s Nose
  • Thacher Park, other area parks
  • Arboretum programs, esp. nighttime, Esperance
  • Kirtan/chanting, Yoga on Main St., Cobleskill
  • Helping Hands concerts, Presbyterian Church, Schoharie
  • Islamic Center/Mosque, Albany
  • Programs at the Linda, Albany
  • Movies at the Spectrum, Albany
  • Bethlehem Neighbors programs, other nearby peace group programs
  • Old Chatham Quaker Meeting/ Powell House events, Old Chatham
  • Kanatsiohareke Mohawk Community, Fonda
  • Indian Castle Church and Nowadaga Creek (falls and fossils), near Canajoharie


  • Peace Pagoda, Grafton
  • Blue Cliff Monastery, Pine Bush
  • Rev. Billy revival, NYC
  • Omega Institute events


  • Matilda Joslin Gage House, Fayetteville
  • Frederick Douglass Museum, Rochester
  • Oneida Nation VIllage
  • Syracuse Cultural Workers
  • Strong National Children’s Museum of Play, Rochester


  • Kripalu programs, Lenox
  • Rowe Conference and Retreat Center, Rowe
  • Dr. Seuss Sculpture Park and Museum, Springfield


  • Adirondack Natural History Museum, Tupper Lake
  • Adirondack Museum, Blue Mountain Lake
  • the Adirondacks!!!!!

concerts, festivals, conferences, movies, plays, readings, speakers, beautiful places within 2-3 hours ?

WHAT ELSE ??????


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: