GNL number 26


a report of doings at meeting #26, Sunday, September 13, 2009
including liturgical notes, major themes, and other odds and ends


A true pirate story enacted by 4 year-old pirate Lucy and 6 year-old pirate Eli:
Lucy, after capturing some mermaids: “Let’s eat ’em for lunch!”
Eli, disgusted: “WHAT?  WE CAN’T DO THAT!”
Lucy: “For dinner?”


For this third edition of Children’s Book Day, Chris brought several from her own childhood, starting with a patriotic little relic from second world war days called The Bear Story. (See her note in AFTERWORDS.)   She recalled growing up with Little Golden books and showed some of these—Tootle (the train), The Little Train That CouldDoctor Dan — which on rereading she thought interestingly also steeped in the culture of the time.  Another real favorite of hers:  A.A. Milne’s Now We Are Six.

This last book touched a happily familiar chord for Anna, who said she didn’t remember much reading or being read to in childhood, but did recall warmly Milne’s four-volume set of Winnie-the-Pooh books, with the black and white illustrations.  And when she began naming and describing the characters like Pooh, Eeyore, Piglet, everybody else jumped in with their favorite character, vignette or poem too.

Adair reminded us of some wonderful true-life stories of interspecies friendship, like the baby hippo and old tortoise. who adopted each other after the tsunami a few years ago. And the moose who loved the cow. Chris said the public library has books about both these rellationships. (Ed. note: Google yields lots of other examples, like the owl and his german shepherd, the cat and the crow, and the duck and chicken who raised 5 chicks together.)

Sue is especially fond of Carl Sandburg, and not only brought books but audiotapes of Sandburg reading his work  She played some of his magical, sonorous readings for us, and also brought Jay O’Callahan’s Raspberries, and Ida Chittum’s scary true story of the man born with a tail on his head! See AW for her notes on all these.

Gail brought and read a delightful picture book about all the amazing and funny things that happen when a pig named Clarence Goes Out West and Meets a Purple Horse (named Smokey).  Of course Clarence, normally a city pig, learns to line dance and play washtub bass in a cowboy band, among other things. The book is by Jean Ekman Adams.

Gail’s granddaughter Virginia (so great to have V. with us again), had also brought a book about horses: she read us Paul Goble’s the Girl Who Loved Wild Horses,  a story of a Native American girl who has a special kinship with horses and who eventually becomes one of them, to forever run free.  Its full color, double-page illustrations were very beautiful.

Jack vividly recalled an incident from his early childhood;  he had scarlet fever and was enduring a 6-week quarantine with his mom (or she was enduring it).  She was reading him a story about a dancing bear, when feeling better and full of nonsense in any case, he stood up on the bed and began to dance like the bear in the story, and in his enthusiasm naturally fell off on his head. Luckily, as he hastened to add, his head was already too hard to sustain much damage.

Nancy brought several favorite books.  She introduced and read a few lines from 3 old classics by old masters — em>Alligators All Around (Sendak), Harold and the Magic Crayon (Johnson), the Foot Book (Seuss), then newer ones — Owl Babies (Waddell and Benson) and Taxi Dog (Barracca) then showed the lovely wordless Anno’s Journey. Then she read a piece from (Byars’) My Brother Ant, and finally (Steig’s) The Amazing Bone, an epic pig and fox drama with all life’s emotions.

Ann remembered most clearly being read to when she was sick, and had strong memories of the Milne stories and poems, breaking into phrases from some like, “I do like a little bit of butter to my bread!”   She also had come equipped with 6-wordies more in AW):

  • Adults writing kids’ books, how strange.
  • Child’s lap, open book, the world.
  • Stories inhabit books,  then travel on.


I told you once,
I told you twice,
All seasons of the year are nice
For eating chicken soup with rice.
—–Maurice Sendak


Sunday, October 11, 2009 (1030), at Jack’s.  The topic: SEASONAL CHANGES (in nature, in weather, in us…..any or all)


from Chris:
For those of you who were at the last CofS (all of you except for Cynthia, if my memory’s working today!), Jack now has his very own copy of The Bear Story. I had said he could borrow mine, then changed my mind, I just couldn’t part with it if anything were to happen to it – so, I ordered one right away, and he’s got it. If you want to read it through, you’ll need to go visit Jack!

This was the WWII story, equating a grizzly bear living in a cage, surrounded by a wall, who made “war” on the other animals, finally being overcome by bees which looked ridiculously like WWII fighter planes. ‘Worth a look.

from Sue:
Children’s books and audiotapes—

  • Carl Sandburg, Grassroots, Harcourt Brace & Co., 1998.
  • Poetry for Young Children, Frances Schoonmaker Bolin, Editor, Sterling Publishing Co., 1995
  • Rainbows are Made, Selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins, Harcourt Brace Janovich, 1982.
  • Rutabaga Stories told by Carl Sandburgh, Caedmon audio Cassette, CDL 51089, 1995.
  • Poems for Children read by Carl Sandburgh, Caedmon audio Cassette, CDL 51124, 1995.
  • Ida Chittum, The Thing Without a Name and Other Strange Tales from the Ozark Hills, Indpendence Press, 1981. told “The Boy with a Tail on His Head”
  • Jay O’Callahan, “Raspberries,” my audio tape available to loan or cd available at ocallahan. (“Magical berries! Can they change an unlucky farmers life? Sad Simon is just about to lose hope when a small present makes a big difference. A juicy and delicious story for the whole family.”)

from Nancy:


  • Alligators All Around, by Maurice Sendak
  • Harold and the Magic Purple Crayon, by Crockett Johnson
  • The Foot Book, by Dr. Seuss
  • Owl Babies, by Martin Waddell, with pictures by Patrick Benson
  • The Adventures of Taxi Dog, by Debra and Sal Barracca, with pictures by Mark Buehner
  • Anno’s Journey,  with pictures and no words by Mitsumasa Anno
  • My Brother, Ant, by Betsy Byars, with pictures by Marc Simont
  • The Amazing Bone, by William Steig

from Ann:


  • Adults writing kids books, how strange.
  • The bookstore drew me in, heavenly.
  • Big letters–young, large print–old.
  • I am whoever I’ve ever met.
  • The Bible–stories, real or imagined.
  • Child’s lap, open book, the world.
  • Stories inhabit books, then travel on.
  • Friendship is the medicine of life.
    —-Emerson Elliott, Newsweek editor


from Sue:
Well folks, I’ve been toiling away since our last Church of Skippy meeting, trying to compress all of Torah (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy plus all the Talmudic Commentary and stories that fill in the gaps in the Biblical texts—Midrash, Mishnah) in Six Wordies.

So Here goes: The Torah in Six words
First I remembered this story: “When asked by a non-Jew to relate all the Torah had to say while standing on one foot, Hillel (a great teacher and scholar) replied, ‘Do not unto your neighbor what you would not have him do unto you; this is the whole Law; the rest is commentary.’
So the first Six Wordie

  • The Golden Rule says it All.
  • Then it occurred to me that the prime Jewish prayer—the mantra you might say of Jewish life/death and everything else is…..a six wordie in Hebrew (Yes!!!!) How profoundly miraculous that moment of insight felt!

  • “Sh’ma Yisroel Adonai Eloheinu, Adonai Echad”
  • My six-wordie English translation “Yo! God Wrestlers! All Is One” is a pale companion to all the verbal depth and richness embodied in the Hebrew words:
    which I’d translate without restriction as follows:

  • “Yo! Listen up! You stiff-necked God-Wrestlers! Yud-Hey-Vav-Hey—the Is-Was-Will Be-Being in the Process of Always Becoming is our God—that BECOMING which all being carries in every cell and molecule (or quark, neutrino or particle), and expresses on every breath is ONE!”
  • Then continuing to meditate on the question—what’s the essence of ALL of Torah, I came up with the rest:

  • “All in One-One in All”
  • Serve the Source by serving All.
  • BEING divides, struggles, reunites—beloved, loving.
  • How to know the One in All
  • Pursue justice, peace. Love kindness, compassion.
  • Be present to All, know God.
  • Exile Return, Exile Return, Exile Return
  • One big endless crazy soap opera
  • So—any one want to try using six words for Torah or the Christian Bible—Old and/or New Testaments? Buddhism? Taoism? Shintoism? Marxism? etc.

    from Sue

  • peace in lots of different languages
  • from Nancy:
    (in response to Sue)                                                       

    Reading these recalled some passages i’d jotted down a while ago, maybe not even verbatim, from Eckhart Tolle. And when i located those old notes, lo, they also turned out to be 6-word phrases. So, here, not so much a capsule of one religion’s teaching — Tolle doesn’t follow one — as the wisdom kernal of his own experience, and that of many faiths examined closely:

  • Knowing other life forms as yourself
  • Is the deepest form of love.
  • To know the other as yourself.
  • and a last IDEA afterword from Sue:

    My suggested topic/activity for November CofS meeting — “Opening our hearts to abundance” — Each person prepares a basket and fills it with symbols of their prosperity. (Examples: a dollar to represent material wealth, a book to symbolize knowledge, objects and/or pictures/photos of family, friends, places to remember the treasures of our relationships, places we’ve loved to be, experiences, etc.) We will also decide on a charity that benefits some disenfranchised population—refugees, the homeless, hungry, etc. and set aside some money as a Charity/Justice (hebrew-tzedakah) offering. Follow activity with a shared meal.

    We will also have a space at the center of our circle to place the objects from our baskets—after we have shown them to others and talked about them. This space will be decorated with fruit, flowers, and a box for the charity/justice offering. Idea adapted from Rabbi Shefa Gold, “Torah Journeys, The Inner Path to the Promised Land,” BenJehuda Press, 2006



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