GNL number 54

a report of doings at meeting #54, Sunday, November 13, 2011
including liturgical notes, major themes, and other odds and ends


Variety is the very spice of life, that gives it all its flavor.
—–William Cowper

Variety is the condition of harmony.
—–Thomas Carlyle


Our theme, Potpourri, had been Cynthia‘s idea, so she took the opportunity to interpret it literally, and brought us a wonderful show and tell: the most heavenly fragrant bowl of flowers and leaves she’d slow-dried. She told how, and passed around several books to help us experiment too. And then she unveiled the project that’s been keeping her busy lately, the 2012 calendar of her lovely pen and ink/watercolor paintings, this year with special recipes (the first of which she used for the incredibly tasty stuffing she brought today). She also suggested the 2013 calendar should be a different format, with Skippy recipes and quotes—an idea we of course loved.

Sue said this morning it had hit her how important books are in her life, and she brought and told about many. First, she had on the invitation of Christine’s Paul, brought some of Chris’ books here to share—by Gunilla Norris, Pema Chodron and others. Then several others from her own spiritual education—by Rabbis Shefa Gold and David Cooper, eg.,and then some from her family history that she will pass on to her kids, like one her dad gave her mom when they were first married—A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. She also told us about a film she had recently been very moved by—Sweet Land, a simple, poignant story of immigrant America in Minnesota after WWI. See AFTERWORDS for her further notes.

Sue’s book tour reminded Anna of her own childhood in the home of book-loving parents. Her father was a newspaperman and book reviewer for his paper, so he received lots of free books to review. Anna said just being around them felt good: she grew up with a sense that books were valuable, sources of interesting information, stories, ideas. And one of us remembered hearing some of her dad’s charming children’s stories, which she agreed to also bring and share here another time.

This subject also stirred happy memories for Ann. She remembered being taken regularly as a child by her mom to the shop where she worked part time. And it was a shop full of fascinating sights and smells, of all kinds of wondrous lovely gifts, often from nature, like driftwood pieces, not to mention the many fabulous, exotic candies—in other words, the shop was a potpourri in itself, and a magical place still alive for her.

Gail gave us a beautiful appreciation of the recent amazing, so incredibly orange, and longlasting full moon, telling how she had compared notes on it with her mom and dad (out on a boat in Florida) and her niece (home alone in DC while her husband was in Afghanistan), all of them utterly delighted by the moon. The other thing strongly on Gail’s mind had to do with her husband’s declining health, which has been necessitating changes in their life, including the way they do the farm, and travel plans, and also necessitating some support for herself, a wise and good thing, we thought.

Nancy said that several things on her mind were a kind of potpourri. First, the Occupy movement, and how heartening it is to see so many others know our system is mortally sick, and are willing to put their bodies on the line to nonviolently bring that message and real change, even show us how to do a democratic community. Then of course, the stuff of aging: feeling the ailments, losses, and other realities. And recently, the passing of Christine. She recalled how Chris loved Skippy, how much she gave to our meetings—not only that intelligence, but wonderful sense of humor, kindness, and courage. N felt the beneficiary of all these. Last, and relatedly, N had gratitude in mind, or the bud of it that she wanted to grow, that still loves this whole motley mysterious life. Chris and Paul remind her of that.

We agreed it would be most appropriate if our offering this time was given to one of Christine’s favorite causes, the Noel and Eleanor Dickerson Award at Middleburgh Central School.


In the time of your life, live so that in that work and time you shall not add to the misery and sorrow of the world, but shall smile to the infinite variety and mystery of it.
—–William Saroyan


(a week early) Sunday, December 4, 2011 (1030), at Ann Adams’ house on Pavilion Ave, Sharon Springs. We had to move the date to make sure Virginia could be there, since it’s her topic: DANCE!


from Sue:

  1. Re the impromptu singing bowl concert Nancy gave herself at home and then repeated for us:
    Uncommon Sounds, Wednesday December 7, Frisbie Hall, Room 200, 7:30 PM–“Experience the ethereal sounds of music created from instruments including a Glass Harmonica, Singing Bowl, Ullieann Pipes, Udu Drum, Bouzouki, and Nose Whistle. Join SUNY Professor Ed Stander and local musicians Tom Wadsworth & Brian Melick as they create a truly unique musical encounter.”
  2. The Torah commentary I shared was inspired by hearing the quote by Thomas Carlyle on variety & harmony . Rabbi Shefa Gold, Torah Journeys: The Inner Path to the Promised Land, Ben Yehuda Press, 2006. Here’s how she said it: “The Portion of Noah blesses us with yet another rainbow: the story of the tower of Babel. The tower of our arrogant singular purpose topples and we are given a rainbow of diversity in its place. As we seek to touch the Unity (prompted by hunger for mastery or control), we are answered with multiplicity. We are sent on the rainbow journey to acknowledge every shade of experience, to recognize the whole spectrum of what it means to be human. We are blessed with complex beauty, confounding paradox, and the opportunity to know and enjoy all the separate colors that together form the magnificent white Light of the One.” (p.27)
  3. The last book Christine gave me was My Grandfather’s Blessings: Stories of Strength, Refuge, and Belonging, by Rachel Naomi Remen, MD, Riverhead Books, 2000, and I talked about the chapter called “Finding the Center,” p. 170, in which all those who worked in a hospice office were asked to bring an object from home that symbolized the meaning of their own work at hospice.
  4. I also recommended the movie Sweet Land Land

Editor’s note on singing bowl concert:
This was at the close—three Corningware china bowls of different sizes and shapes struck by a wooden spoon, after which Ann cracked us all up with an also impromptu “and that was Nancy and the Corelles!”


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