GNL number 14

the GOOD NEWS Lately

a report of doings at meeting #14, Sunday, September 14, 2008
including liturgical notes, major themes, and odds and ends

Nothing endures but CHANGE.
It is in changing that things find repose.


  • Gail, hosting and starting the discussion, quoted poet Mary Oliver on impermanence and then read a synopsis of a fable that had stimulated her to choose CHANGE as a topic, Spencer Johnson’s Who Moved My Cheese? And this abridged tale of different responses to change, some not very healthy, appears in AFTERWORDS, below, along with the lines from Oliver.
  • Sue spoke of her own proclivity for worry and of learning to see, greet, and let her worries pass through, and of the Buddhist sense of impermanence as central to life, “the name of the game”. She then described a wonderful Jewish ritual for reconciliation and change, where community supports you in your confronting and committing to change. Notes and quotes on these also below.
  • Ann said she so accepted change as life that at first she didn’t feel much to talk about, but remembered a couple of famous quotes—the one by Heraclitus about the immutability of change, and the lines from Shakespeare’s As You Like It: Sweet are the uses of adversity…..(and with that, the memory of wise people who expressed no regret for their adversities, which indeed had helped make them who they were). Quotes below.
  • Chris too spoke of the element of opportunity in the crisis of change, and quoted some traditional Chinese wisdom, and the contemporary American psychologist Clarissa Estes. (See below.)
  • Vijaya described the thought/feeling that came to her about change and fear of it, which has been echoing in her mind—and that was, as a rather fearless person, feeling afraid of not having fear, perhaps as if fearing was more normal.
  • Jack elaborated on changes, two crises in young manhood that led him to become introspective and eventually Christian; he again cited his gift of merry heart (we could call it faith) that helps keep him open to life’s changes like those he works with now. (And he and Sue exchanged anecdotes about talking to their less able arm that has “no mind”).
  • Cynthia, away in Vermont chicken-sitting for her daughter, nevertheless left us some of her thoughts, for one, the Oliver quote that her dear friend on the same wave-length read at the start, and this 6-wordie: Everything changes and change is everything.
  • Nancy noted how the prospect of change personally raises feelings of resistance and tension for her, but saw this itself gives way and changes(as in the following 6-wordie that turned up later: Fear, closing, possibilities, opening, growth: life). She also quoted Buddhist teacher Pema Chodron on opening to change (below).
  • And we can’t omit mention of this day’s extra pleasures, in addition to the good talk and brunch that impossibly keeps getting even better—the presence of Virginia, who cooked the wonderful onion soup with mystery spices (we need the recipe), and added the lovely tiny gonging of her dance cymbals at the end and played us out on our way with her guitar. And Gail’s screenporch-outdoorroom where we had the meeting: at least two of us have asked to be allowed to live there.


Impermanence is a principle of harmony. When we don’t struggle against it, we are in harmony with reality.
—Pema Chodron

NEXT TIME: Sunday, October 12, 2008 (1030), at Adair’s house. The topic: NOURISHMENT (Interpret as broadly as you like as long as you bring a
bit of brunch too) Directions: from Main St., Cobleskill, go north on North Grand to the flashing light, and left onto rte. 10 N about 9 miles, then left onto Slate Hill Road; about 1 mile at bottom of steep hill, Slate Hill makes a sharp left. Don’t go around this curve. Instead go “straight” onto West Creek Rd. till end, about 0.9 mi. At end, turn right–Engleville Rd. (no sign). You go over a little bridge, which you see as you turn, and just after the bridge, go left onto ROSENBERG ROAD ( sign 1/2 high) about 0.7 mi. to Adair’s house on right, #236 on mailbox across street.


from Nancy

  • First, an inquiry and request that got forgotten at the meeting:
    Please, more input on the CoS blog—eg, what would you like to see collected in departments (like topic ideas, field trip ideas? new 6-wordies?
    or what link connections, what else—–?)
  • And maybe a note now a couple weeks later about how different our rather philosophical discussion might have been today, with not only both presidential campaigns touting change platforms, but the air chokingly full of drastic economic change/crisis(/opportunity?)—am thinking about the big changes we are all about to undergo, and the imposed opportunity to wake up and live with simpler needs. Surely a topic to be continued……..

from Gail

  • Who Moved My Cheese? features four characters; two mice, “Sniff” and “Scurry”, and two little people, miniature humans in essence, “Hemingway” and “Haw”, live in a maze, a representation of one’s environment, and look for cheese, representative of happiness and success. Initially without cheese, each group, the mice and humans paired off, travel the lengthy corridor searching for cheese. One day both groups happen upon a cheese-filled corridor in “Cheese Station C”. Content with their find, the humans establish routines around their daily intake of cheese slowly becoming arrogant in the process.
  • One day Sniff and Scurry arrive at Cheese Station C to find no cheese left but they are not surprised. Noticing the cheese supply dwindling, they have mentally prepared for the arduous, but inevitable task of finding more cheese beforehand. Leaving Cheese Station C behind, they begin their hunt for new cheese together. Later that day, Hem and Haw arrive at Cheese Station C only to find the same thing, no cheese. Angered and annoyed, Hem demands “who moved my cheese?”. Unprepared, the humans have counted on the cheese supply to be constant. After verifying that the cheese is indeed gone and ranting at the unfairness of the situation, both head home hungry. Returning the next day, Hem and Haw find the same cheeseless station. Beginning to realize the situation at hand, Haw proposes a search for new cheese, but Hem, dead set in his victimized mindset, nixes the proposal.
  • Meanwhile, Sniff and Scurry have found “Cheese Station N”, a new supply of cheese. Back at Cheese Station C, Hem and Haw, affected by their lack of cheese, blame each other for their predicament. Hoping to change, Haw again proposes a search for new cheese. Hem however, comforted by his old routine and afraid of the unknown pecker, again knocks down the idea. After many days in denial, including a search for cheese behind the wall of Cheese Station C, the humans remain without cheese. One day, realizing his debilitating fear, Haw begins laughing at the situation. Realizing he should move on, Haw enters the maze, but not before chiseling “If You Do Not Change, You Can Become Extinct” on the wall of Cheese Station C for his friend to ponder.
  • Still fearful of his trek, Haw jots “What Would You Do If You Weren’t Afraid?” on the wall and, after thinking about it, begins his journey. Still with worry, perhaps he has waited too long to begin his search, Haw finds some scattered cheese and continues his search. Slowly losing his denial, Haw realizes that the cheese has not suddenly disappeared, but has dwindled from continual eating, and that the older cheese was not as tasty and had been moldy. After a let down, an empty cheese station, Haw begins worrying about the unknown again. Brushing aside his fears, Haw’s new mindset allows him to again enjoy life; he has even begun to smile again and is realizing “when you move beyond your fear, you feel free.” After another empty cheese station, Haw decides to go back for Hem with the few bits of new cheese he has managed to find.
  • Uncompromising, Hem turns away the new cheese to his friend’s dismay. With knowledge acquired along the way, Haw heads back into the maze. Still going deeper into the maze, impelled by bits of new cheese here and there, Haw leaves a trail of writings on the wall, hopeful that his friend will be aided by them in his search for new cheese. Still traveling, Haw one day comes across Cheese Station N. Abundant with cheese, some varieties strange to him, he has found what he is looking for. After eating, Haw reflects on his experience. Pondering a return to his old friend, Haw decides to let Hem find his own way. Finding the largest wall in Cheese Station N, he writes:

    Change Happens— They Keep Moving The Cheese
    Anticipate Change— Get Ready For The Cheese To Move
    Monitor Change— Smell The Cheese Often So You Know When It Is Getting Old
    Adapt To Change Quickly— The Quicker You Let Go Of Old Cheese, The Sooner You Can Enjoy New Cheese
    Change— Move With The Cheese
    Enjoy Change!— Savor The Adventure And Enjoy The Taste Of New Cheese!
    Be Ready To Change Quickly And Enjoy It Again & Again— They Keep Moving The Cheese.

  • Cautious from past experience, Haw inspects Cheese Station N daily and explores different parts of the maze to prevent complacency from setting in. After hearing movement in the maze one day, Haw realizes someone is approaching the station. Unsure, Haw hopes that it is his friend Hem who has found the way.

from Gail and Cynthia and Sue:

    ……therefore why pray to permanence, why not pray to impermanence, to change, to—whatever comes next.
    —Mary Oliver, from What Do We Know?, “Now Are the Rough Things Smooth”

from Sue

  • The habit we have of naming everything, is the habit of naming permanence, of expecting permanence, of hoping for permanence. When we begin the practise of naming the breath, we are going in the opposite direction. We are beginning the practise of naming Impermanence.
    —Richard Baker, “Notes on the Practise and the Territory of the Precepts ” For a Future to Be Possible, p.150
  • “Good ritual facilitates desired change and provides one more way to empower yourself in the direction of your hopes.” p. 31
    —Rabbi Goldie Milgram, in Reclaiming Judaism as a Spiritual Practice–Holy Days and Shabbat
  • Rabbi Shefa Gold’s prayer for tashlih (the Rosh HaShannah/New Year ceremony of compressing whatever personal pains, deeds, regrets, experiences from previous year that need to be let go within crumbs of bread and then casting the bread crumbs into “living” that is freely flowing water):

    Wash over me, carry my prayers to a G*d who hears.
    Wash over me, send me an answer to my tears.
    I cast out my worries, I cast out my fears.

from Ann:

  • Sweet are the uses of adversity,
    Which like the toad ugly and venomous,
    Wears yet a precious jewel in his head;
    And thus our life exempt from public haunt,
    Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
    Sermons in stones and good in everything.
    I would not change it.
    —William Shakespeare, As You Like It, Act II, scene I
  • Change: Cat crossing the road, carrying something, a mouse maybe, oh no, it looks like a bird, damn!, nope it’s OK, it’s a starling.
  • Six Wordie: Change !? but why, it just is.
  • Change. This topic has not set me on fire. I guess at some point in addressing something or someone who has changed that it is what it is. There are some things we can change and some things we can’t, (give me the wisdom to know the difference), but even more so give me the wisdom to give in (accept) before I become destructive and hurtful to other people.
    Heraclitus–on the immutability of change (also the guy who said you can’t step into the same river twice; the river will be different, and you will be different).

from Chris

  • Chinese proverb: That the birds of worry and care fly above you, this you cannot change, but that they build nests in your hair, this you can prevent.
  • Paul’s quote from the Chinese: Crisis symbol is the symbol for danger placed over opportunity.
  • Another quote from Clarissa Estes’ “Women Who Run With The Wolves” is: “When one is freshly informed, has a serendipitous experience, one’s mood is changed, one’s heart is changed. That is why taking time to see, hear, be present to images and language that arise from new experiences have the power to change one from one way to another.”

from Nancy:

  • The teachings of the Buddha—Let go and open to your world. Realize that trying to protect your territory, trying to keep your territory enclosed and safe, is fraught with misery and suffering. It keeps you in a very small, dark, smelly, introverted world that gets more and more claustrophobic and more and more misery-producing as you get older.
    —Pema Chodron
  • Being fully present isn’t something that happens once and then you have achieved it; it’s being awake to the ebb and flow and movement and creation of life, being alive to the process of life itself.
    —Pema Chodron


from Nancy:

  • And the day came
    when the risk to remain
    tight in the bud
    was more painful
    than the risk it took
    to blossom.
    —Anais Nin

(and a set of 6-wordies)

Weather change on a cloudy night,
a voice heard in the breeze,
“it’s been a good trip already”


1 Comment

  1. Rev. Judy Scott said,

    November 12, 2008 at 9:29 pm

    thoughts from early October:

    Summer is about to bow out,
    fall is on stage for new short colorful drama,
    winter waits in the wings…
    Each one has a part in the drama of life,
    and ushers in change.
    Change, and more change.
    Even as you and I, our friends and all else,
    we have our entrances, cues, a story to tell,
    and the curtain falls.
    Whatever else, we have a part to play,
    and lines to say…
    While we’re on stage,
    let’s be mindful of doing good,
    getting it right.

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