GNL number 71

a report of doings at meeting #71, Sunday, April 14, 2013

including liturgical items, major themes, and other odds and ends


Spring has returned. The earth is like a child that knows poems.
~~~Rainer Maria Rilke

I stuck my head out the window this morning
and spring kissed me bang in the face.
~~~Langston Hughes


Sue opened this conversation about REBIRTH with references to and several quotations from some wise voices. Among these were Thich Nhat Hanh, on his central teaching that every moment can be, is, a rebirth, if we stop running; and her favorite rabbi, Rachel Barenblat, who says this moment “is pregnant with eternity.” Sue also recalled to us the way the Judaic word for God “is a verb for becoming; it’s all becoming.” And later, inspired by Louise’s chickens, she sent us Walt Whitman’s poem on Composting. See AFTERWORDS for her notes, quotes, and poems, including one of her own.

Ann also brought many quotes, 6-wordies ( e.g., “Are we there yet — Good question.”), and a nice bird-shaped spring poem to share. (See AFTERWORDS for all these.) She said she saw rebirth as needing not only the closure of something, but the open “space” for something new to develop. And she cited her recent habit of playing Pickleball on a regular basis as one new chapter in her post-retirement life that has meant a lot to her; she says it has been keeping her physically active, sharp (and laughing).

Louise, our host and matriarch of a multitude of gorgeous, free chickens, spoke of her life with them and why she’s doing this crazy, hard thing — because she loves it and them and is determined to live in a redeeming way, helping not harming our struggling earth. And she gave a vivid example of the way the earth on her rocky hill is being reborn, even improved, by the ladies’ contributions, including when one of them dies, and Louise tucks it carefully into her compost. Compost, a strong theme today, not only figuratively but literally. Most fitting that we were here at Louise’s farm.

Cynthia gave a very moving account of her and Ron’s dark, difficult winter with their dear Kaylie dog in her final stage. How hard it was to let her go, help her go, and then move through the grieving; how writing was helpful, especially to Ron, and realizing how lucky they’d been in her, how she’d seemed there to remind them with her love, of the life continuing. And they were able to see how this loss also rekindled earlier losses in their family. Several weeks later now, she said they’ve come to an opening into a new chapter: they are ready to sell their camp, and envision many travels south and west ahead of them.

Nancy thought first of the Buddhists’ wisdom that all is change, everything in flux, ebbing and flowing, all connected. Then realized that for her personally, rebirth has been little moments of renewal, return to being in love with life. (Could call that faith?) And these not just in spring, but every season, most often out on walks or drives into the natural world. Sometimes it’s certain music, as of Sibelius, or Leo Kottke; or poetry, often Mary Oliver. Kindness or affection shown her by someone, or something zesty, like grandboy Eli’s excited bald eagle story, or bravely persistent, like activist Bob Nied’s efforts. Her quotes below in AFTERWORDS.

Anna first joked about needing a rebirth herself, then was reminded how she has had several, having left behind periods of dance, music, travel, and a long career in photography for other things. She said her most recent incarnation stars a new dear friend, Tailless the female cat, who came in from the cold and stayed. Anna then told us some tales of Tailless, including how spooked she was by the life-size cloth cat Janaye made, and how she invariably joins A in bed to the great pleasure of them both.

We decided that with the newest federal funding cuts, the recipient of today’s offering should be our county’s Headstart program.


Take a course in good water and air; and in the eternal youth of Nature, you may renew your own.
Go quietly, alone; no harm will befall you.~~~John Muir


Sunday, May 19, 2013 (1030), at Sue’s house on Quarry Street, Cobleskill. The topic is MOTHER, MAY I ?


from Sue:

“Death and Rebirth is one of the most crucial parts of life, without one the other simply cannot exist!”~~~Isabella Poretsis

“Until we find out who was born this time around, it seems irrelevant to seek earlier identities. I have heard many people speak of who they believe they were in previous incarnations, but they seem to have very little idea of who they are in this one. . . . Let’s take one life at a time. Perhaps the best way to do that is to live as though there were no afterlife or reincarnation. To live as though this moment was all that was allotted.”~~~Stephen Levine, A Year to Live: How to Live This Year as If It Were Your Last

“For me there is no materiality to apparent materiality. In our bodies, 3 billion cells a minute are dying and being reborn. So our bodies look solid, but they aren’t. How many minutes have just gone by and how many cells have died and been reborn? We’re like a fountain. A fountain of water looks solid, but you can put your fingers right through it. Our bodies look like things, but there’s no thingness to them. We’re forces of God. ~~~Li-Young Lee, The Sun

and I referred to Thich Nhat Hanh’s teaching that every breath and moment is an opportunity to begin anew–to be reborn, which I was reminded of by my early morning reading on the day we met: “If we not fully present and not alive, either for our loved ones or ourselves, where are we? We are running, running, running, even during our sleep. We run because our fear of losing everything is chasing us. The practice of resurrection can help us.”~~~BIRTH by Rabbi Rachel Barenblat

In Hebrew, “compassion”

shares a root with “womb”

and God is the One in Whose womb

creation is nurtured.

On Rosh Hashanah we say

today the world is born.

Or: this moment right now

is pregnant with eternity.

In each human life

as in the cosmos writ large

infinite possibility waits

to burst forth.

What mystery do you carry?

What stirs in you, faintest flutter

growing into the insistent kick

of change, ready or not?

Elul: the leaves turn

and we turn

toward our Source, toward

who we haven’t yet become.

Don’t be afraid.

There are blessings here

even if you can’t see them.

Open and let them come.

New Year Prayer (day of rebirth) by Susan Fantl Spivack

Day of opening to a new year of receiving,

year of remembering to offer gratitude

for every duty that presents itself,

for every opportunity to serve another

even though I fear it, even though I’m burdened,

even though I want to run the other way.

May this be my year of gratitude

for every shock, for every slap down

disappointment, for every blow that shakes me-

open mouthed, open eyed-to cry out

answers to questions I didn’t know

were prisoned in my shuttered heart.

May I recognize how closed

I must have been if you, Ya, had to use

such forceful means to pry me open

to your presence.


from Ann:

6 Wordies:

Are we there yet? Good question.

First day of spring -18*. Rebirrrrrth?

Spring is

Swelling maple buds, redwings, rabbits chasing rabbits,

Squirrels tearing around on trees, daffodil nubs, dirty snow, bobbing Bluejays,

Song sparrows, Turkey Vultures, Killdeer, flocks of Robins all arriving;

Brightening yellow of willows, patchy yellowing of gold finches,

Warm sun behind glass,

Breezes not wind,

The air.


  • Transformations,
  • limbo,
  • inspiration,
  • fresh,
  • clean,
  • new,
  • do-over,
  • expectations,
  • flux….


    • “When spring came, even the false spring, there were no problems except where to be happiest. The only thing that could spoil a day was people and if you could keep from making engagements, each day had no limits. People were always the limiters of happiness except for the very few that were as good as spring itself.”
      ~~~Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast
    • “Spring shows what God can do with a drab and dirty world.”
      ~~~Virgil Kraft
    • “Spring passes and one remembers one’s innocence. Summer passes and one remembers one’s exuberance. Autumn passes and one remembers one’s reverence. Winter passes and one remembers one’s perseverance.”~~~Yoko Ono
    • “Spring is the only revolutionary whose revolution has succeeded.”
      ~~~Marianne Van Hirtum
    • “The first day of spring was once the time for taking the young virgins into the fields, there in dalliance to set an example in fertility for nature to follow. Now we just set the clocks an hour ahead and change the oil in the crankcase.”
      ~~~E.B. White, One Man’s Meat
    • “In our part of the country, spring passes quickly. If you haven’t been out for five days, you find the trees in bud. If you don’t see the trees for another five days, you discover that they’ve put out leaves. In another five days, they’re so green you wouldn’t recognize them. It makes you wonder: Can these be the same trees I saw a few days before? And you answer yourself: Of course they are. That’s how fast spring goes by. You can almost see it. From far away it comes racing toward you. And when it reaches you it whispers in your ear, ‘I’m here,’ and then runs swiftly on. ~~~Selected Stories Of Xiao Hong
    • “It’s hard to walk briskly at this time of year; the accelerating pace of unfolding spring slows my own. I repeatedly stop- to watch what’s moving. Soon the torrent of migrants will completely overwhelm my ability to keep up with all the changes. But it’s easy to revel in the exuberance and the sense of rebirth, renewal.”
      ~~~The View from Lazy Point: A Natural Year in an Unnatural World
    • Spring is nature’s way of saying, “Let’s party!”~~~Robin Williams

It’s spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you’ve got it, you want – oh, you don’t quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so! ~~~Mark Twain

  • Out with the cold, in with the woo.~~~E. Marshall, “Spring Thought”
  • First a howling blizzard woke us,
  • Then the rain came down to soak us,
  • And now before the eye can focus –
  • Crocus. ~Lilja Rogers

from Nancy:

Every single cell in the human body replaces itself over a period of seven years. That means there’s not even the smallest part of you now that was part of you seven years ago.

~~~Steven Hall, author of the Raw Shark Texts

In my own worst seasons I’ve come back from the colorless world of despair by forcing myself to look hard, for a long time, at a single glorious thing: a flame of red geranium outside my bedroom window. And then another: my daughter in a yellow dress. And another: the perfect outline of a full, dark sphere behind the crescent moon. Until I learned to be in love with my life again. Like a stroke victim retraining new parts of the brain to grasp lost skills, I have taught myself joy, over and over again.

~~~Barbara Kingsolver

I thank You God for most this amazing day:

for the leaping greenly spirits of trees and a blue true dream of sky;

and for everything which is natural which is infinite which is yes.

~~~ee cummings

This grand show is eternal.

It is always sunrise somewhere:

The dew is never all dried at once:

A shower is forever falling, vapor is ever rising.

Eternal sunrise, eternal sunset, eternal dawn and gloaming,

On the sea and continents and islands,

each in its turn,

As the round earth rolls.

~~~John Muir


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