GNL number 6


A report of doings at meeting # 6, Sunday, December 9, 2007
Including liturgical notes, major themes, and odds and ends


The great sea has set me in motion, set me adrift,
And I move as a weed in the river.
The arch of sky and mightiness of storms
encompasses me,
And I am left trembling with joy.
—Eskimo Song

What a thing it is to sit absolutely alone, in the forest, at night,
Cherished by this wonderful, unintelligible, perfectly innocent speech,
The most comforting speech in the world,
The talk that rain makes by itself all over the ridges,
And the talk of the watercourses everywhere in the hollows!
Nobody started it, nobody is going to stop it.
It will talk as long as it wants, this rain.
As long as it talks I am going to listen.
—Thomas Merton


  1. It was Gail’s turn to bring the topic, and she passed us index cards asking that we write a few minutes on what JOY meant to us.

    She described the joys of her life there—the beautiful outdoors, the farm, and working with her husband on it, and especially the daily joy that is her granddaughter Virginia. (And it was indeed V who provided us with a lovely, nonstop fashion show, modeling
    her fabulous magnet-jewel creations!)

  2. Cynthia cited an ongoing joy, her husband’s smile, and two memories, the first years ago, of the feeling so strong, of love and pride at her daughter’s graduation. The second, more recently, was during the toasts at their 40th anniversary celebration, when she looked out on the sea of faces there in loving witness for them. She also brought a Merton quote (see below).

  3. Sue first described her delight in a special phone message left by her grandson, almost two, which she’s kept and replays to new smiles each time. And she noted there’ve been many joys even in the sad, painful time of her father’s decline and death, through all the kind acts of people. She said daily physical activity has been a pleasure as well as essential to her, most of all, gardening, and especially the actual digging.

  4. Ann passed an old family photo of her and her siblings, all smiling the same very real smile of time together really enjoyed (a pleasure to see in itself); and noted her own personal joys have had to do with the outdoors—her longtime love of observing birds and wildlife, and more recently kayaking, especially on the Mohawk River. Ann also quoted Merton (see below).

  5. Anna spoke of spending many earlier years looking to others for authority and hardly ever smiling, and finally coming to depend on her own authority and learning to smile. And she said one of her greatest sources of delight is her big backyard which she’s let go wild and which yields constant wonderful surprises—flowering things and interesting creatures.

  6. Adair, recalling her own joy in nature, and flowering things, noted what a really big deal flowers were in the grand progression of life on the planet. And speaking of her pleasure in animals, especially dogs, she pointed out that animals can and do experience joy too, as anyone who’s seen puppies or young of any kind playing, will agree. And this reminded us of the many ways play is joy to us people too.

  7. Nancy spoke of her grandkids, and kids’ open, fresh faces in general, and described an encounter in the supermarket checkout line, behind a 7 month old baby whose face was so lit up in happiness for the world that he was unstoppable and giving it all to N, who arrived at her door still smiling and feeling she’d been blessed by the baby Buddha. Among other joys, she counted walking out in the wide world and fresh air, almost any kind of music, and open-faced, playful grownups!


I need some different songs now.
I need some new songs.
Old songs are ringing in my ears,
Old stories and a few more tears.
Where are my new songs?
Where are my new songs?
You silly girl, they’re everywhere.
Look out and see the music there.
There in the hills, there in the trees
In little things that children see,
In people’s faces if you really meet them,
They wait for you.
Go out and see.
Here are your new songs;
Here are your new songs.


NEXT TIME: Sunday, January 13 (1030), Plan A at Jack Daniels’ place, 141 Jay Street, Cobleskill, if Jack’s cold has subsided. If not, Plan B, at Cynthia’s on North Street, Coby. We’ll email A or B the Saturday before. Anna will lead, on SIMPLER LIVING.


A couple of us have been bringing RESOURCES to lend at meetings. A great idea! Please feel invited to bring magazines, books, etc. you’ve liked and want to share (or return) each meeting.

A couple more FIELD TRIP IDEAS:

  • the Arkell Museum of Art, Canajoharie
  • the Butterfly Museum, Oneonta
  • And a wonderful FIELD TRIP made, by Cynthia, Gail, and Nancy, Dec. 14, to Troy to see Rev. Billy’s movie, What Would Jesus Buy? Just ask them about it. No, they’ll report unasked next time!

Some theme-related QUOTES from the meeting, and some that showed up later

From Cynthia:

  • Do not look for rest in pleasure—because you were not created for pleasure.
    You were created for joy.
    If you do not know the difference between pleasure and joy,
    You have not yet begun to live,
    —-Thomas Merton

from Ann:

  • The way to find the real “world” is not merely to measure and observe what is outside us,
    but to discover our own inner ground.
    For that is, first of all: in my deepest self.
    This “ground”, this “world” where I am mysteriously present at once
    To my own self and to the freedoms of all other men
    Is not a visible, objective and determined structure with fixed laws and demands.
    It is a living and self-creating mystery of which I am myself a part,
    To which I am myself my own unique door.
    —-Thomas Merton

from Nancy:

  • [Among the] 7 kinds of offering that can be practiced by even those who are not wealthy:
    The 3rd is the offering of eyes. This is to offer a warm glance to others, which will give them tranquility.
    The 4th is the offering of countenance. This is to offer a soft countenance with a smile to others.
    —the Buddha

  • The beating heart of the universe is holy joy.
    —-Martin Buber

  • You will go out in joy

    And be led forth in peace;
    The mountains and hills before you
    Will burst into song.
    —Book of Isaiah

  • Keep knocking and the joy inside
    Will eventually open a window and look out

    To see who is there.

  • …take time to “enjoy”—engage in joy.
    —Ann Adams


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