GNL number 42

the GOOD NEWS lately

a report of doings at meeting #42, Sunday, November 14, 2010
including liturgical notes, major themes, and other odds and ends 

INVOCATION

Every exit is an entry somewhere else.
—playwright Tom Stoppard

The rule which forbids ending a sentence with a preposition
is the kind of nonsense up with which I will not put.
—Winston Churchill


THEME

Before we started the conversation on our topic OTHER ENDINGS, Vijaya asked for a few minutes for something that had been strongly  on her mind. And this was her deep unhappiness with the response of the community to the recent racial slur incident, which she felt was a rush to judgment — not fair to the principals, not Gandhian, not conducive to dialogue, learning, or growth;  and she thought this needed to be said and addressed.   Much discussion followed, with Sue, for instance, reporting as head of the community anti-bias committee on the progress it’s already made, and suggesting we continue the discussion over lunch. Ann observed afterwards that VJa had registered a wish for a different ending to this episode, and that this can and may be done: we can use new beginnings like the awareness and anti-bias work now happening, to make new endings.

Sue then read from poems by Rainer Maria Rilke about endings and beginnings (for these and other quotations, see AFTERWORDS, and spoke of endings in her own family, like when she realized when she became a parent she needed to refuse to expose her children to the abusive behavior of her mentally troubled brother back at the family home.

Ann divided her “endings” into Good and Bad, which experiences ran the gamut from seasonal to gastronomical, but first on her list of good endings was War. She also read some of her poetic 6-wordies, and told of the wise comment of one of her little students. For all of these, please see AW.

Chris spoke of the endings of her first two marriages, but also of gaining a feeling of relief, and especially the strong sense of honesty refound. She spoke too of understanding better, after these and the death of her mother, how important it had been to her to please her mother.

Anna described coming to rather natural endings: stopping her dance career, music (playing recorders on a regular basis with friends), and a long photography career, pretty much without planning or rationale, each when it “just was time.”

Adair cited Bill Bryson’s book, A Short History of Almost Everything, on endings and beginnings as all more fluid and unpindownable in the cosmic, quantum reality.  She again expressed concern about the biggest potential ending, that of the Earth, and noted James Lovelock’s conclusion in his latest book that we are past the point of no return. Adair also recalled her feelings on her masters graduation — the brief relief and letdown followed by the tension of job searching.

Jack has had many difficult and painful endings in recent years, but he’s found his “merry heart” has always been there, sometimes quietly in the background, but has never deserted him. (And this gave us our idea for next month’s topic.)

Gail read a poem about a happy-sad ending we’re all familiar with — the close of the school year.  And to keep us safe from any possible standard for high dignity we might have been in danger of adopting, she read a quote from the original gonzo journalist Hunter S Thompson on the Endings subject.  Maybe this is one we should memorize. (See AW.)

Cynthia spoke of the biggest ending of her recent years, the decision to sell the Natural Food/More Store she co-owned and ran with Gail; this at what seemed the right moment in the lives of both, as well as for the community, since the store was well-established. (Several of us still wished we could roll back that decision.) And Cyn said this ending did indeed open up new opportunities in their lives — camp for the Wilsons and the blossoming of her art, and new studies, volunteer work, more travels for Gail, and of course school  for Virginia!

Nancy mentioned a small ending first — a gradual goodbye to TV years ago, something she doesn’t miss at all.  Then she spoke of several more difficult endings, the hardest, of her marriage; and before that the leaving of the home they’d built in Herkimer County; and before that sending the kids off to kindergarten, college, the big world. Later, jobs that ended when grants ran out, and more recently when she retired from Headstart. All of which led other places, not only more walking, writing and whistling, but a funky little Grandma house by the woods, lots more family visits, and of course this thing we call the Church of Skippy.

We decided to divide our offering between the two local programs: ACCORD and its anti-bias work, and the Catholic Charities/Price Chopper food card project that helps feed local families.


BENEDICTION

I wanted a perfect ending….Now, I’ve learned the hard way that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next. Delicious ambiguity. —-comedienne Gilda Radner, 1946-1989


NEXT TIME

Sunday, December 12, 2010 (1030), at Jack’s. The topic, apropos for the season, will be MAINTAINING A MERRY HEART.


AFTERWORDS

from Sue

“Ah, the knowledge of impermanence
that haunts our days
is their very fragrance.”
~Rainer Marie Rilke, Part Two, Sonnet XXVII

Be ahead of all parting
Be ahead of all parting, as if it had already happened.
like winter, which even now is passing.
For beneath the winter is a winter so endless
that to survive it at all is a triumph of the heart.
Be forever dead in Eurydice, and climb back singing.
Climb praying as you return to connection.
Here among the disappearing, in the realm of the transient,
be a ringing glass that shatters as it rings.
Be. And, at the same time, know what it is not to be.
The non-being inside you allows you to vibrate
in full resonance with your world. Use it for once.
To all that has run its course, and to the vast unsayable
numbers of beings abounding in Nature,
add yourself gladly, and cancel the cost.
~Rainer Marie Rilke, Part Two, Sonnet XIII

“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.” Maria Robinson

“That nothing is static or fixed, that all is fleeting and impermanent, is the first mark of existence. It is the ordinary state of affairs. Everything is in process. Everything—every tree, every blade of grass, all the animals, insects, human beings, buildings, the animate and the inanimate — is always changing, moment to moment.” ~Pema Chodron The Places that Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times (Shambhala)

a quote I didn’t read: “The greatest stories are those that resonate our beginnings and intuit our endings, our mysterious origins and our numinous destinies, and dissolve them both into one.” ~Ben Okri quotes (Nigerian author who uses magic realism to convey the social and political chaos in his country, 1959)

from Ann

Good Endings:

War (war thinking)
The school year
Toothache
Absence
Suffering
Winter
The garden in fall/winter
Gumbo/okra
The late night meeting, which is going around and around, or nowhere
Guilt
Fear of edges/limits

Bad/Sad Endings:

Sunset
Spring
Summer
Lamb stew
Pea soup
The garden in fall/winter
All our dogs’ passing
Eating a sun warmed tomato while standing in the garden
(with juice dripping down chin and arms).

Six Wordies:

Along road, old man walking alone.
Am I alone? True friends stay.
The wind is high, breathe deeply.
Only bronzes, coppers, and golds remain.

Also: from Heraclitus: “The immutability of change,”relevant to the general discussion of nothing actually ever ending…

My little 4th grader who lost his early childhood aura when no one would listen to him any more. Actually there is much more to this story than I felt I had time for in our session, and is still difficult for me to talk about.  This was the little (and he was always very small) fellow, who had been on my bus from his first day in school, and who was hit by a car and killed at age 11 right at his bus stop, and I was on the ambulance call for him. That is an ending I will never forget… thus it does not end.

from Gail

Summer’s here!  Another year of school is at end.
We’ve learned a lot and grown a lot and made a lot of friends.
We’ll say goodbye, now summer’s here, it’s time for us to part.
But we’ll remember all our friends and keep them in our hearts.

Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow!  What a ride!” —Hunter S Thompson, journalist and author, creator of Gonzo Journalism, a style of reporting where reporters involve themselves so much in the action that they become central figures in their stories.

From Nancy

A couple other Ending thoughts:

Later I remembered having a very strong feeling on the completion of college — of Freedom!   I could read what I wanted to read now!

Also, and this is related, isn’t it, I  noticed again there’re some things I very much need to end, like the habit of collecting BOOKS and sticking at home reading too much.

And most important, was the realization that all of these endings have led to something, especially understandings I might not have come to otherwise. That you don’t have to have your loved ones with you all the time to love them tenderly, that endings and the pain of loss are part of a bigger story.

 
 
 

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