GNL number 34

the GOOD NEWS lately

a report of doings at meeting #34, Sunday, April 11, 2010
including liturgical notes, major themes, and other odds and ends




Enough.  These few words are enough.
If not these words, this breath.
If not this breath, this sitting here.
This opening to life
we have refused
again and again
until now.
Until now.

—–David Whyte


Jack had given us our topic, Words and Practices That Bring You Back, by referring last time to his breathing meditation practice (Breathe in Christ, breathe out peace…);  and today he remembered another experience of returning, when swimming many years ago in the springs of Lake Placid, and feeling the springing of life and of God, bubble up into him.

Adair spoke of a particularly intense time in her life toward the end of work on her master’s, when she unexpectedly became responsible for her mentally declining mother, and another, very disturbed relative, along with her own two children who were upset with their parents’ divorce.  Yes, she got through that and did finish the master’s, and partly because of two messages she gave herself frequently: on facing the tough things, “…but the alternative is worse,” and on meeting bits of beauty,  “Life, I love you.”

Sue brought a fine load of books that have been rich sources of wisdom for her—writings of Rabbi Shefa Gold, Gunilla Norris, Pema Chodron (she’s reading The Way of a Boddhisattva now), as well as the difficult  Dave Grossman book, On Combat.    She also brought two wise quotes, from Joseph Campbell on what people are really looking for, and Ed Young, his Take Time for 8 Matters of the Heart.  These quotes and notes appear in AFTERWORDS.

Nancy spoke first of reminder messages in words, images, and sounds all over her place—notes, quotes, poems, as well as photos and art of her grandkids and other kids in the act of delight, and such things as bird song around her porch mornings, phone messages from grandchildren, and of course much much music, heard and sung. She also realized that 3 practices had probably kept her afloat all these years (3 w’s)—Walking, Whistling, and Writing.  (And reading Wise people like Mary Oliver and Pema Chodron.) N and Q in AW.

Ann put several of her thoughts in poem form, and even included a game poem for guessing nicknames of spring birds (that we mostly flunked but enjoyed a lot). And one thought, about finding balance, prompted memories among several of us who’d had to relearn that after limb-disabled times.   Needless to say, there were also some very springlish 6-wordies and a word-string from Ann too, so please see AFTERWORDS.

Anna described her very functional wood-moving exercise as not only physical exercise but a spiritually grounding practice.   And for another, she cited her regular observations of the nightly animal visits to her deck, eg, the recent skunk-cat encounter which ended nonviolently in a standoff (or was it a standoff by one and walkoff by the other?).  She vows to do an allnight observation, and will report further adventures.

Vijaya had spent several weeks in India, three of them at a yoga retreat center, and she described the day there that started with pranayama—breathwork, followed by meditation, yoga, and later sacred music and dance.   Most fittingly, she closed our testimonies by singing a song that had come to her while she was there,  and this was a very peaceful song, asking God to come in.  (Vijaya also suggested that Love be our topic for next time.)
Today’s offering was given to the Heifer International program, which will apply it to gifts of chicks, goat, sheep, and trees for needful families.

And a note about an unexpected visitor to our gathering:  the morning was so mild and beautiful that we left the door open, and through most of the meeting then, we were treated to the most glorious soundtrack, from a perch in the trees just across from the doorway—the whitethroated sparrow was surely singing directly to us (or maybe she was saying not “old sam peabody” but “when is it my turn?”)—


The first thing,
The last thing,
Start from where you are.

—–Dale Pendell


Sunday, May 9, 2010 (1030), at Jack’s.     The topic is LOVE, and as usual, one that’s free to wander wherever it may.


from Sue:

“People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances within our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive. That’s what it’s all finally about, and that’s what these clues help us to find within ourselves.” ~Joseph Campbell

…and I recommended books by Gunilla Norris. Some that I love are Being Home: Discovering the Spiritual in the Everyday, A Mystic Garden: Working with Soil, Attending to Soul, Inviting Silence: Universal Principles of Meditation.

Take Time for 8 Matters of the Heart

TAKE TIME for repose

it is the germ of creation

TAKE TIME to read

it is the foundation of wisdom

TAKE TIME to think

it is the source of strength

TAKE TIME to work

it is the path to patience and success

TAKE TIME to play

it is the secret of youth and constancy

TAKE TIME to be cheerful

it is the appreciation of life that brings happiness

TAKE TIME to share

it is in fellowship and sound relationships one finds meaning

TAKE TIME to rejoice

for joy is the music of the soul.

~Ed Young, an excerpt from an illustrated lecture on Chinese Characters delivered by Mr. Young upon acceptance of the 1990 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for the picture book Lon Po Po: A Red-Riding Hood Story. Mr. Young keeps these eight points over his desk as he works.

from Ann:

on Grounding:

  • Natural world, hands, take the time needed, breathe, sigh, stare and let your mind (conscious and unconsciously) wander.
  • As a 10 year old, climbing a rock face near my home I realized there was always a hand/foothold. If we give ourselves the time, let the formulae go, and don’t resist, most often there is a hand/foothold.
  • There are two ways to be/become balanced: one is to focus completely on a spot or object, the second is to focus on nothing, let go. Try both methods while standing on one foot for a minute or two and then on the other for a “poems” just for kicks.

Through the glass, looking.
In here is me,
Limited by eye corners and lids.
Then focus blurs
And looking expands
Beyond corners and lids.


Many gifts we are given,
By who does not matter.
How we use them, does.


The crested families (jay, titmouse, cardinal),
The cheerleaders (juncos),
The modos (mourning doves),
The parasite birds (cowbirds),
LBJ’s – little brown jobs (mostly song sparrows,
along with chippers, a fox or two, a tree left over from winter),
Potato chips with a dip (goldfinches), and their relatives
(house and some purples),
All visit my backyard
In spring.

Word string: Fellowship, guyship, hiship, hership,
heship, sheship, galship, friendship.

6 Wordies

  • No breath in, no breath out.
  • The winds bites, warm sun, spring.
  • Travel far/ stay close, imbibe all.
  • Bird song, life song, spring promise.
  • It’s green, it’s refreshing, it’s spring!

    from Nancy:

    (some messages from wise friends—)

    One day Chao-Chou fell down in the snow,
     and called out, “Help me up!  Help me up!”
    A monk came and lay down beside him.
    Chao-Chou got up and went away.
    —–Zen koan

    Do not despair: life wins.
    —–Elie Wiesel

    Today, like every other day,
    we wake up empty and frightened.
    Don’t open the door to the study
    and begin reading.
    Take down the dulcimer.
    Let the beauty we love  be what we do.
    There are hundreds of ways to
    kneel and kiss the ground.

    I wanted to speak at length about
    the happiness of my body and the
    delight of my mind for it was
    April, night, a
    full moon and—
    but something  in myself or maybe
    from somewhere other said: not too
    many words, please, in the
    muddy shallows the
    frogs are singing.
    —–Mary Oliver

    (and a note to/from herself—)
    in and out,
    through your belly,


    • (and a message from the U—)
      Once, 35 years or so ago, I had a severe case of tendinitis in my shoulder; the doctor gave me a shot of cortisone and cranked the arm around so that i thought I would faint.  A minute later in the car with the shoulder now throbbing, I felt no, I would die.  But then in the next instant, crystal-clear words appeared in my head—not my words, nor my voice—two words:  “Stop resisting”.  My body knew the meaning before I, and just melted, let go, and i didn’t die after all.  This moment has stayed close ever since, a life message to me—to stop  resisting, stop running from consciousness,  stay, join, live.
    • (and about writing—)
      For me it’s been helpful to write first thing in the morning to see what’s really been present before the agenda kicks in; and at bedtime as a kind of appreciation of the day, but often it’s also a way anytime, especially when lost, of stopping to ask myself necessary questions, like what’s happening here, what feelings are here?  And what do you really want to remember,  what really matters?    And what I want to remember is usually something like:  that I want to be here, now, conscious.  That yes, there is change and suffering, and there is also beauty and sweetness in this life. That I want to, I can, stay with it all. That I want to do my part in the whole mystery, and that I can.


    from Chris:

    Here are some expressions I use to get me through any number of days:

    • You can share my “Life’s messy. Clean it up!” quotation from Bissell! That’s my all-time favorite.
    • Let’s see, what else… “This, too, shall pass”
    • “It will get better”
    • “A month from now, a week from now, this won’t matter…and if you’re lucky, perhaps it won’t matter by tomorrow!”
    • “Another Day In Paradise!” (that can be taken either way, depending upon my mood!)
    • and stolen from America, “Oz never did give nothin’ to the Tin Man that he didn’t already have” – of course, I say “anything”, but otherwise, it works for me!!!!

    from Cynthia:

    Aloha and Mahalo

    Even tho’ I missed our April gathering, if there is room in the Skippy news, please include my new-found words to describe my feelings for our ‘congregation’ and our mission as Skippyites:

    • Mahalo is a Hawaiian word meaning thanks, gratitude, admiration, praise, esteem, regards, respects. According to the Pukui and Elbert Hawaiian Dictionary, it is derived from the Proto-Polynesian masalo.[1]The word is of post-contact origin.
    • Aloha in the Hawaiian language means affection, love, peace, compassion and mercy. Since the middle of the 19th century, it also has come to be used as an English greeting to say goodbye and hello. Currently, it is mostly used in the sense of ‘greetings’.

    from Judy Scott:

    • We live life forward and understand it backward.
      —–Soren Kierkegaard
    • (and  her addition to our list of Skippy practitioner names—)

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