GNL number 13


A report of doings at meeting #13, Sunday, August 10, 2008
including liturgical notes, major themes, and odds and ends


Let me tell thee, time is a very precious gift of God,
so precious it’s only given to us moment by moment.
—Amelia Barr


  • Sue led off this discussion of TIME with notes from the stimulus sheet she’d sent to several of us (which appears in the Afterwords section below), adding her own feelings that time in American society has become a commodity, that time = money, and that we are always so rushed, that she strongly feels the need, for all of us, to find ways to step into some kind of sacred or “free” time. She brought the three quotes that follow, and the famous passage from Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8.
    • To live is so startling, it leaves little time for anything else.
      —Emily Dickinson
    • Come out of the circle of Time, And into the circle of Love.
    • Time spent laughing is time spent with the gods.
      —Japanese proverb
  • Ann, recognizing our cultural concept of time as a linear one, spoke of how time can be viewed as circular, and is in some other cultures still.
    And, we shouldn’t have been surprised when, she read us some more of her 6-wordies, all time-related. She also sent some further thoughts on Time. (see AfterAfterwords for these)
  • Anna said she felt relatively culture-free, and not as time-pushed as most people, but content to live slow and enjoy nature’s surprises; and she noted discovering that she could even feel ok with memory lapses, since they mean she gets to enjoy things as if new all over again. Which reminded her that she’d like to see us discuss, in the broad sense, the idea of Nourishment.
  • Jack read us two familiar Time pieces: the lyrics to that romantic, old American standard, Time on My Hands (supplied by Chris’ husband), and the passage from Ecclesiates 3, 1-8, that Sue had brought:
    • For everything there is a season,
      And a time for every matter under heaven:
      A time to be born, and a time to die;
      A time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
      A time to kill, and a time to heal;
      A time to break down, and a time to build up;
      A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
      A time to mourn, and a time to dance;
      A time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
      A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
      A time to seek, and a time to lose;
      A time to keep, and a time to throw away;
      A time to tear, and a time to sew;
      A time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
      A time to love, and a time to hate;
      A time for war, and a time for peace.
  • Chris spoke of a special gift she discovered long ago she has, an intuitive inner clock that allows her to just sense correctly what time it is, by what cues she knows not, but a handy gift. Later, wishing we had not run out of guess what, she sent some thoughts on another aspect of Time she would like to have discussed: a woman’s biological clock. And these follow in AAW also.
  • Adair noticed how subjective Time is, and how different it can feel in different circumstances: when one is focused and enjoying things, time proverbially flies, and when one’s waiting, it crawls. She brought us Time quotes from four 20th c. women and a 19th c. man (see AW below), and spoke of also having that nifty inner clock talent that Chris described.
  • Vijaya gave us another example of the way time can be so different for individuals, when she told about her grandson, who was suffering that common childhood complaint–lost in boredom– and she gave him the good advice to listen to and write about his feelings, which indeed helped.
  • Anoopa described the different sense of time she and her sisters grew up with in India, slower than here, and which persists there to a great extent. (And she also gave an example of subjective time sense, with the different concepts within her family of what a mother-in-law looks like!)
  • Indira suggested, as a handle to deal with the culture’s overloading pressures, using our present time with real focus for planning and time management, and this elicited from others some ways they plan, list and prioritize.
  • Cynthia noted the slower rhythm she and Ron have been living in at Camp, without clocks, etc. and in the flow of nature’s time. She said that the difference between camp life and town life has been striking (even in sleepy little Coby town). And it was clear she was enjoying them both.
  • Nancy read some notes on feelings the word Time bring up for her, and these turned out not only to echo some of the earlier comments, but to sound almost like a personal vow. She also quoted and recommended Dr. Stephen Rechtshaffen’s book Time-Shifting. (see AW below) And then to wrap up, she read a short children’s book version by Jon Muth, of Tolstoy’s “The Three Questions,” which concludes the most important time is this moment right now, the most important person is the one with you right now, and the most important thing to do is to do good for the one you are with now.


An eternity is any moment opened.
—Noah ben Shea

NEXT TIME: Sunday, September 14 (1030), at Gail Sondergaard’s in Worcester. The topic Gail chose, fittingly, is CHANGE. (Let’s car-pool!!)


(actually PREWORDS) from Sue:

Some ways to think about Time

How do we experience/perceive Time in the following realms?

  • Work Time, Leisure Time/Paid Time, Unpaid Time
    • How much of your time (even if you’re retired from paid work) feels like work time, how much like leisure or “free” time? How do you “feel” about these different kinds of time. What do you do during “work” time that you never do during “leisure or free” time?
  • Present-Past-Future Times
    • Estimate how much of the time your mind is having present time thoughts, past time thoughts, future time thoughts.
    • What is the emotional or feeling flavor of thinking about past, present, future?
    • How hard/easy is it to be “present” with what you are doing/where you are at/who you are with? When is it easiest to be “in the present moment?” How does that feel?
  • Waste of Time/Using Time/Time is Money/No Time/Time Savers/Too Much Time/ Time is running out/Making up for lost time…….
    • How often do you experience time as a commodity, a finite substance, a item to be bartered. Do you tend to be a prompt person, always showing up “on time,” (or early)
    • Or are you often “late.” How much time do you spend noticing the time, counting time, calculating how much time something will take. How aware are you of “time passing?” “time running out?” “time to kill?” How time driven are you?
  • Sacred and Profane Time
    • Have you ever felt you were (even for a moment) in a sacred or holy time? What was happening, how did you feel?
    • Have you ever felt that certain times in your life were the opposite of holy or sacred, could not possibly be thought of that way? What was happening, how did you feel?
  • Eternity/Now/Timelessness
    • Have you had experiences you would describe as “timeless.” What were they?
    • How did they feel? How much does “forever” or “always” figure in to your feelings, thoughts, experiences?

from Adair:

  • It takes a lot of time being a genius; you have to sit around so much doing nothing.
    —Gertrude Stein
  • It is terrible to allow conventionala habits to gain hold….to eat, sleep, and live by clock ticks.
    —Zelda Fitzgerald
  • Time runs…..over the edge and all exists in all.
    —Muriel Rukeyser
  • Time is the one thing with which all women should be miserly.
    —Agnes E. Meyer
  • O Time, arrest your flight! And you propitious hours, arrest your course! Let us savor the fleeting delights of our most beautiful days!
    —Alphonse deLamartine, 1820

from Nancy:

personal notes on Time–what does this word call up?

——Lack of enough. The push of it on us to accomplish enough to be “ok”.

——Wanting not to be bullied by the frantic American time-clock, or a too intense self-imposed okness standard.

——Wanting to take my blessed Time (and worship the 3 goddesses: putter, fritter, and dawdle).

——Wanting to SLOW DOWN. To Be Here in this time zone, this precious NOW, to experience the real life I’ve so often lost in my rush.

——Wanting to faithfully do only ONE thing at a time (and wishing to save us all from multi-tasking).

——Wanting to take time to connect:

  • with people, with family and friends, neighbors and strangers, like the preschooler in her window as I walkedby, who was not in such a burning hurry that she couldn’t knock on the glass and give this stranger a big smiling wave!
  • And with animals—atleast notice, witness the doe and fawns in the yard, woodchuck mama on the deck, the rabbit in the crown vetch, not to mention the skunk.
  • And with plantlife—what a joy this greenest of summers, to be present at the moment of flowers blooming, and how wonderful to slow down enough to not only feel the heavenly breeze, but to hear how it makes different trees sing different songs!

some quotes from Timeshifting, by Stephen Rechtshaffen, MD

  1. ….we rush through life without experiencing it. this sort of time pressure is a peculiarity of recent history. Keeping precise time is a social invention and only about 100 years old! Before that we lived in time freedom.
  2. 95% of stress relates to feelings of time poverty. Yet…(and this is the key to timeshifting) in the present moment there is no stress.
  3. Watch a young child. She is totally focused on what she’s doing, without concern for the furture or regrets for the past. In a real sense, this is time freedom. But we’re socialized out of this natural sense of awareness and wonder early on.
  4. Mindfulness doesn’t “take” time; it gives it.
  5. Good health lies in the slowing of the moment. Work through the emotions, and the diseases caused by repressing them will be less likely to surface. Learn to slow down, to experience the emotion and let it recede, and the body becomes less vulnerable. Learn to timeshift and your chances for good health dramatically increase.
  6. Violence flourishes because it is a way to feel. Caught in the rhythm of tv violence, consumed by need for the quick fix, needing the addictive high that comes with risk, more and more we turn to fists and bats and knives and guns. When we live only in short moments, it”s easy to understand why violence excites, why movies can only elicit emotion by more and more graphic depiction of sex and mayhem, why boomboxes and ambulance sirens get louder. Something has to penetrate to get attention in a world without feeling. So we wail and fight and ingest images that are more and more horrific. What we lose is compassion. As we have less time for our inner selves, we have less time for others. Unless we can shift time, unless we can entrain with slower rhythms and unburden ourselves of the frantic pace at which we exist, civility will be lost. And if we lose civility, we are on the brink of losing civilization.


from Ann:

  1. Is it a waste of time to just sit at your desk, watch and listen to the rain fall? Where, in time, is your mind in those moments (moments being time segments)?
  2. The first waking moments for me are often the ones where things, worries, rush in and niggle at me. Sometimes the first moments provide a solution to an ongoing niggling problem or situation. How fast the mind works in clock time. When the mind is at work, is it dealing with/in time? Thoughts are often, though not always, a progression, sometimes thoughts go back to ideas, skip huge amounts of time, and answer the current problem, eg. How many years has it been since I used that word or phrase, but it fits perfectly right now to this situation. Is an “ah ha” moment past, present, future, or all together at once?
  3. We, “civilization”, have measured time since before we became civilized, the passage of the seasons, aging, etc. Is time a fact? What is time – an organizing tool, a tool to hammer us to death with, a gift, a weapon?

from Chris:

  1. One aspect of time that was not discussed, but which came to me immediately, is the whole issue of a woman’s “biological clock”. That very term makes us all groan, but it’s universal in its implications. Perhaps it didn’t come up because the majority of women have had children. I have not. Not being a mother, whether by choice or biology, is experienced by a minority of us. An early question when meeting someone is “what do your children do?” or “do you have children?” If the answer to that is a negative one, the response is an awkward silence. How many years I have been erroneously wished “Happy Mothers’ Day”!
  2. The limited time, that window during which we’re considered mature enough to be a parent and the time it’s considered dangerous and/or foolish to become one, can become paralyzing to a woman’s very sense of self and self-worth. We’re put here to have children, aren’t we? and time, relentless time, often works against us, year by year.

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