GNL number 65

a report of doings at meeting #65, Sunday, October 14, 2012
including liturgical notes, major themes, and other odds and ends


There are things known and things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception.
—–Aldous Huxley

There are things known and things unknown, and in between are the Doors.
—–Jim Morrison


Before beginning our topical discussion, Nancy reported Adair‘s message that she was well and settling into her new house in Maine, but unable to join us on this special day for Christine, so was sending her regrets and love to us all. And then, noting that the little ceremony for Christine was going on about this same time in Middleburgh, N added that Chris and Paul were strongly in our minds here today too, and that Sue, there at Paul’s request, would also be carrying our thoughts. (Please note in Afterwords a Blessing she read at the ceremony.)

The theme today was Doors, Windows (and Walls?), and it was good Ann led off as she had several fertile ideas to start the conversation: doors as in and out, in other words as passageway; doors having thresholds, or point of beginning; doors and windows as part of walls, the three working together; and windows as allowing vision (eg., bus windows: she found driving the same routes for years was not boring after all, but allowed her to see fascinating patterns and changes). She also brought a wonderful quote from poet Mary Oliver. (For this, see Afterwords.)

Louise (so good to have her back) said this topic had brought her images of doors, in particular, the beauty of ones she’d seen in Italy and China and other places—often old, masterfully wrought, works of art in their own right. And then the way out of one’s country is so often a door into new ideas and broader perspective. She would wish this for everyone. Like Ann, she was also thinking of that threshold aspect of doors, where you reach a point of action.

Anna, keying on the idea of threshold too, noted that she must have come to one recently; though she has never been a regular walker, she said that she reached a point a few months ago when it seemed right and she was ready to start walking every day in her country neighborhood. She’s been doing that every day since, and feels better for it.

Vijaya, another who has travelled much, was remembering actual doors too, especially the beautiful, ornate doors of India, pictures of which she promised to bring next time. She also described her little sanctuary building out back, with its three specially crafted archways for statues of three Indian gods. She did bring photos from the day we made Jack’s little St. Francis sanctuary in her back garden, and also thoughtfully, a card she had made for Christine’s Paul that we signed and sent.

This topic prompted for Gail a reflection on her and Clifford’s life together over time: how he was the door for her in the first part of their marriage, leading her to learn to do so many things on the farm, and how she has been learning to be door for him now—getting the animals in and out and butchering chickens together—and how this has been gratifying to both of them. She also described a very moving visit she’d made to a favorite place of hers and her daughter’s—the Hudson-Athens Lighthouse, a place where lighted windows historically guided travelers on the Hudson.

Nancy said her thoughts on this topic were seeded by recent exposure to Joseph Campbell’s Power of Myth, especially his famous theme: “Follow your bliss, and the universe will open doors where there were only walls,” and an educator/writer named Morris Mandel, who noted we civilized moderns now bolt our doors,etc, while jungle natives sleep in open door huts. N”s note to herself was an aspiration to better see possibility through her window, and hear it knocking, and open her wall that, behold, has a door. (More in AW.)

We decided today to again send our offering to the House of Flowers Orphanage in Kabul, which is still in need of support, especially with the approach of winter. Please also take a moment to read the lovely letter just in from Allison Lide, from the House of Flowers. And visit her blog.


If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is, infinite.
—–William Blake

Better keep yourself clean and bright; you are the window through which you must see the world.
—–George Bernard Shaw


Sunday, November 11, 2012 (1030), at Louise Johnson’s house, 184 Bush St., Cobleskill (directions to follow). The topic is BLAME.


from Ann:

from a recent radio interview with Mary Oliver—

“…..The woods that I loved as a child are entirely gone. The woods that I loved as a young adult are gone. The woods that most recently I walked in, they’re not gone but they’re full of bicycle trails and—I grew up in a town that was 3500 people in Ohio, very pastoral and there were woods to go to. That town is now over 250,000 people. And this is happening to the world and I think it is very, very dangerous for our future generations, those of us who believe that the world is not only necessary to us in its pristine state but it is in itself an act of some kind of spiritual thing. I said once, and I think this is true, the world did not have to be beautiful to work, but it is. What does that mean?”

from Nancy:

an elaboration on my comment—

The way I aspire to do that seeing and hearing and opening is basically, to slow down, be here now enough to do things softly not harshly, run around mindlessly less, and spend more just quiet breathing looking and listening time outdoors like Bubber the dog.

and from Sue, who sent these quotes:

  • “Happiness often sneaks in through a door you didn’t know you left open.” ~John Barrymore
  • “Don’t spend time beating on a wall, hoping to transform it into a door.” ~Coco Chanel
  • “Every wall is a door.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • “If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.” ~William Blake, “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell”
  • “I have lived on the lip of insanity, wanting to know reasons, knocking on a door. It opens. I’ve been knocking from the inside!” ~Rumi
  • “Keep knocking, and the joy inside will eventually open a window and look out to see who’s there.” ~Rumi
  • and here is what I read at Christine’s little memorial ceremony:
    After reading it I explained that Sunday’s ceremony was the one year anniversary of Christine’s death (as well as her 63rd birthday) and that this date ends the year of mourning traditional for Jews. Therefore fortuitously we’ve just begun again at the beginning of Genesis as we begin to move forward after Christine’s death–which as we leave the deepest mourning behind, is a time of starting over and new beginnings as weave our memories of and love for Christine into our lives.

A Blessing for Shabbat Bereshit
by Rabbi Rachel Barenblat of Congregation Beth Israel, 10/12/2014
In loving memory of Christine

Dear friends,

This Shabbat we will read from parashat Bereshit, the very first portion in the Torah. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth…” (Or, perhaps, “When God was beginning to create…” Or “When God began to create.” Or “In a beginning…”)
We read these words every year, but they never fail to thrill me. This is the beginning of our holy story; the beginning of our creation story. The beginning of everything.

Our sages teach that God created creation — God created us — because God was lonely. God yearned to be in relationship, so God established creation in order to have something and someone to be in relationship with. Our lifelong task is to figure out how best to be in relationship with our Source, with something greater than ourselves.

I want to bless us on this Shabbat Bereshit. May we experience this Shabbat as a new beginning. May this Shabbat open up for us the blessings of the vast cosmos, the created universe which is more strange and wondrous than we can imagine.

May we, this Shabbat, look out upon our world and our lives and be able to proclaim, with God, that what we see is good… even as we also taste the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and recognize that our world also contains suffering and sorrow.

And may we be strengthened and renewed in our desire to bring healing and repair: to our earth, to our community, to our relationships, to ourselves. Every day can be a new beginning, a new Bereshit, a new creation. Kein yehi ratzon: may it be so!

Shabbat shalom!

Reb Rachel


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