GNL number 63

a report of doings at meeting #63, Sunday, August 19, 2012
including liturgical notes, major themes, and other odds and ends

INVOCATION

A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance. —–Proverbs 15:13

He that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast. —–Proverbs 15:15

A merry heart doeth good like a medicine. —–Proverbs 17:22


THEME

Our first order of business this special day of remembering our dear friend, Jack Daniels, was on Vijaya’ generous invitation, to make a new home in the garden behind her place for the beautiful statue of St. Francis of Assisi that had stood for many years among the greenery in Jack’s yard. With volunteered materials and tools (especially from Gail, Ginny and Virginia, who brought cement mix and the wheelbarrow to mix it in), and lots of helping hands, a lovely concrete pedestal was constructed, and adorned with a sampling of Jack’s most beautiful and exotic stones. When it was complete, the good saint looked most comfortable and happy in his new leafy green surroundings, and we felt here indeed was a little sanctuary well fitting and evoking Jack. Vijaya invites all to come pay our respects often.

Then we sat down, and after the invocation that recalled the merry-heartedness that so characterized him, we warmly remembered our remarkable Jack.

Ann began, with a quote from the theologian Karl Barth, that struck her as illuminating Jack’s faith: “Joy is the simplest form of gratitude”. That joy and gratitude and merry heart were what we most often saw in Jack. But Ann saw too that did not make his faith a blind faith: as others said as well, he was human and suffered and struggled like a human, but still the faith endured. (See Afterwords for her notes, and for some 6 wordies as well.)

Nancy remembered with gratitude many uplifting little handmade cards quoting scripture from Jack; the way at vigils his face and eyes radiated an openness to all, including those who were angry at us; the way he loved all of life, including little creatures and rocks; the way he kept writing his convictions and observations; and the way even in his last, very disabled year, when several of us visited to sing and play music for him, he couldn’t really talk, but after Virginia’s trombone solo, he responded with a huge, roaring “WOW”!!!!! And N recalled his speech and booklet on Loving Nonviolence and Inner Peace, and his inspirations on this path. A quote from it follows in AW.

Sue cited Jack’s own writing, in particular, his diary called Across Brimstone Creek—Exploring Nature in a Small Patch of Schoharie County, and read a lovely entry for us, which we include in Afterwords. She brought copies to share of other booklets he’d written on PeaceMaking, as well as a copy of a beautiful poem he’d written in 1990, The Gathering, and this appears in AW also. And Sue recalled that years ago when she’d asked Jack if he’d always had such faith and inner peace, he said, “No”, and told her of a deep emotional and spiritual crisis he’d had in his thirties, from which he’d finally emerged with his faith in God and Christ.

Erynne told a personal story of her coming to Schoharie, in which Jack was a key figure. She called him from New York City where she was working years ago when she had been deeply impressed by his book on the history of African-Americans in Schoharie County, and he encouraged her to come here. She moved to Schoharie not long afterwards, and Jack continued to be a dear friend and inspiration ever since.

Gail, in addition to bringing much of the raw materials and tools for our memorial project, was probably the most experienced of us in outdoor work, and she also especially appreciated Jack’s love of nature. She remembered, for instance, being charmed by his illustration in the Brimstone Creek book of the delightful, dippy flight pattern of a golden bird he was watching. (Ann said, yes, a goldfinch, and they say it goes “dip, dip, chip”! A little later, we noticed a small goldish bird sitting on the wire above us as if invited.)

Cynthia was another grateful recipient of Jack’s beautifully handwrtten psalms and other quotes during a difficult period, and she also warmly remembered walking through his and Louise’s apartment and reading the lovely messages in his calligraphy all over the walls, most of them sweet little notes, often poems, to his beloved Louise when he was going for his daily walks. These, we thought, had been collected and put into small booklets, which hopefully have been given to his niece Penny, to whom he was very close.

Vijaya credited Jack with being the one who made her feel welcome when she first came here, to this community where there were so few people of color; he was someone who trusted her and whom she could trust, and this enabled her to believe the community couild and would be accepting. We laughed again about her vision of Jack at Skippy meetings, which always reminded her of Krishna surrounded by the adoring Gopi ladies!

Gail’s mom Ginny, who had come to know Jack through her attendance at our meetings any time she’s visiting, and of course hearing of him from the rest of us too, said that Jack seemed to embody the scripture from Matthew about “by their fruits shall ye know them…”, as one who has clearly acted his conscience and done so much good in his life.

Bill, Erynne’s husband, recalled times in Jack’s later, disabled days when he and Erynne would transport him to the Saturday Peace Vigil and other places. And one place Jack wanted to go was the old Brimstone Creek in Sharon where he had spent so many hours communing with nature. Bill agreed, and found himself moved; it was indeed as beautiful and peaceful as Jack had said.

Virginia, Gail’s granddaughter, was one of Jack’s favorite people, and not only was he enchanted with her trombone playing, but he delighted in every poem and painting she sent him (several), and made sure they hung where he could see them on his living room walls. It was very fitting that Virginia was the primary stone artist on the St. Francis pedestal, carefully choosing and placing Jack’s lovely stones in the cement, and at the last moment placing a tiny little peaceful figure of his there too. And as we sat remembering Jack, and were ready to close, we saw that Virginia while sitting on a cushion on the ground, had made with gravel stones a lovely peace sign. A fine closing.

We should add a postscript: several times during this remembering, we felt something like Jack’s spirit nudging us in Nature, in Vijaya’s flowers, the local birds and birdsong, but then especially, flying low over us and honking wildly, a flock of Canada geese!

It was an easy and unanimous choice to give today’s offering again to the Jack and Louise Daniels Peace Award Fund, administered through the Superintendant’s office of the Cobleskill-Richmondville Central School District.


BENEDICTION

The Peace Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi

Lord, make me a channel of Thy peace:
That where there is hatred, I may bring love;
Where there is wrong, I may bring the spirit of forgiveness;
Where there is discord, I may bring harmony;
Where there is error, I may bring truth;
Where there is doubt, I may being faith;
Where there is despair, I may bring hope;
Where there are shadows, I may bring Thy light;
And where there is sadness, I may bring joy.

Lord, grant that I may seek rather to comfort than to be comforted;
To understand, than to be understood;
To love, than to be loved;
For it is by giving that we receive;
It is by self-forgetting that we find;
It is by forgiving that we are forgiven;
And it is by dying that we awaken to eternal life.


NEXT TIME

Sunday, September 9 (1030), At Gail’s, in Worcester. The topic is FAVORITE BOOKS (adults’ or kids’ or just currently fascinating, or favorite something else, like movie or poem—we’re easy).


AFTERWORDS

from Ann:

A quote: “Joy is the simplest form of gratitude”, from theologian Karl Barth, who I have no information about, but just ran across this quotation. It set me to thinking about Jack. Jack’s joy was “simple” and honest, and real because it was his manifestation of his complete belief in God, and gratitude for Jesus Christ in his life. I’m sure that Jack’s relationship to/with God was never just simple, Jack, like us all, had trials and tribulations. But it seems to me Jack found reconciliation for most of life’s challenges through his committment to Jesus Christ and thus was so joyous in his faith. And this joy spilled out all over the rest of us, for which I am so grateful.

I also had some six wordies that came out in response to finally getting some rain, therefore not necessarily related to our rememberance of Jack.

Please make rain, for the garden.
Gently plopping and popping, summer rain.
Steely clouds stealing in, then rain.
Flash, crack, rumble, then the rain

from Nancy:

excerpt from Jack’s introduction to Loving Nonviolence and Inner Peace—

  • By “loving nonviolence”, I mean two things: first to be devoted to—even wedded to—nonviolence, to be truly and deeply successful, must be motivated and energized by love—by honestly loving one’s adversary.
  • By “inner peace”, I mean that inner serenity each of us needs to find deep within ourselves in order to be an effective channel of peace to others—to the world around us. I fully realize that seeking and finding such inner peace is a continuous and lifelong journey. But be assured that even brief and occasional episodes of self-forgetting—letting go of our egos—will qualify us to be bearers of peace.
  • There is another meaning of “inner peace” which has occurred to me as I have been pondering the title of my talk, and that is its absence from our society as a whole. We seemed to have lost our belief in the “common good”. Greed on the part of whole industries, like armaments, tobacco, pharmaceuticals, handguns, energy, and the field of health care, is destroying the soul of our society. Our democracy is corrupted by money. Corporate power predominates. And we grow more violent both at home and abroad. In short, our national soul is suffering badly. It has lost its “inner peace”.

—12/19/2002

from Sue:

From AN OBSERVATION-A-DAY DIARY OF JACK DANIELS’ AND HIS DOG PAX’S WALKS OUT BACK AND ACROSS THE CREEK OF THEIR PLACE CALLED “LIVING WATER”:

12/25/84, Christmas Day, in this notebook given me by Louis today.

    A glorious sky this morning: great clouds moving and changing form; the sun almost hidden on the upper edge of a very large cloud; the glory of God manifested by great shafts of light radiating earthward and heavenward from the half-hidden sun. One bit of cloud on the lower edge of the mass concealing the sun picked up a rainbow effect, acted like a prism.

~from Across Brimstone Creek–Exploring Nature in a Small Patch of Schoharie County, by Jack Daniels, Times-Journal Press

and this poem written by Jack on 9/30/91:

The Gathering

What were their thoughts?
What were they saying to each other?
Meeting together in that wooded vale
On the trail to the look-out over Pyramid Lake.

They looks as tho’ they’d just arrived
Eager to see each other and swap news
And share new wisdom they had acquired
In the last 5,000 years.

Actually they had assembled in that vale
When the last glacier had receded-
Was it 10,000 years ago?

The glacier knew they were friends and relatives;
It kindly stopped, like a trolley car, and dropped
Them off in that quiet vale among Adirondack foot hills
As tho’ they were on a jolly outing on a woodsy picnic.

Who were they? Well, they were large boulders,
Beautifully formed by the glacier’s mighty hands;
And deftly placed and arranged, each with space
Around it suitable to its girth, and majesty, and wisdom.

There were at least sixty of these rock persons
Gathered there in the shade of tall and ancient trees;
They stood in deep silence, listening to each other’s
Silent messages, coming from the core of their being.

They could, as it were, all speak at once, and yet
Not be a Babel of voices, but rather a deep harmony
Of primeval vibrations communicating peace to the
Surrounding forest, hills, lakes, sky and clouds.

My friend and I were struck with awe as we
Came upon this most august assemblage, for our
Path lay thru one side of their silent arena;
We stood and gazed in respectful silence.

Those great rocks bespoke profound understanding and
Wisdom, an eternal patience and, yes, gentleness;
All of which struck deep into the center of my being:
They radiated an enduring love to me; so much
So I wanted to put my arms around one of them – just
a portion of her girth and embrace her;
And even imagine her rock arms embracing me!

Thou, O God, are in these great boulders;
It is You who speak to me from them:
For You are in everything You have created:
In every blade of grass, every drop of dew,
Every grain of sand, every ocean wave, in
every creature, including me. And I am
Overwhelmed by both the mystery of all this
And by the joy Your infinite love gives to me.

This is from the “Poustinia Journal” of Jack Daniels and written 9/30/91.

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