GNL number 72

a report of doings at meeting #72, Sunday, May 19, 2013
including liturgical items, major themes, and other odds and ends


Biology is the least of what makes someone a mother.
—Oprah Winfrey

My mother had great deal of trouble with me, but I think she she enjoyed it.
—Mark Twain

One of the very few reasons I had any respect for my mother when I was 13 was because she would reach into the sink with her bare hands—bare hands—and pick up that lethal gunk and drop it into the garbage. To top that, I saw her reach into the wet garbage bag and fish around in there looking for a lost teaspoon.
Bare hands—a kind of mad courage.
—Robert Fulghum


After noting where some of our missing were—Cynthia in Florida visiting Michael, Gail with her sister visiting her, and Vijaya in Albany with her family—Nancy opened the discussion on Mother, May I? First she read a message Cynthia left for us, a meditation on her Mom, who died twenty years ago but is well-remembered. And this we include in AFTERWORDS. Then N cited several ways the topic had struck her. First, as a mother and as a mother’s child, both of which she’d often spoken here; and then the idea that the world would be better served and maybe saved by converting to matriarchal society and government, like the Iroquois system. Then she read the proclamation of Julia Ward Howe from the 1st Mothers’ Day in 1872, a powerful anti-war statement. And finally, she read Gunilla Norris’ lovely paean to a grandmotherly Quince Tree. (The proclamation appears in AW, and N will send the little Quince piece separately.)

Sue’s view of the topic started with recalling the old kids’ game, Mother, May I? and considering the aspects of asking, allowing, denying permission. Which made her also recall how important her mother’s expectations were in her life, especially regarding her mentally troubled brother; and how she felt resentment for this for years. She spoke too of permission as often something we need to learn to give ourselves. She read several quotes, and a poem of her own from years ago on this topic that she rediscovered, all of which follow in AW.

Ann spoke of growing up without much asking or getting permission, but learning cues on what not to do from the behavior and of an older sibling. She felt mostly on her own, but mentioned influences other than her parents that gave her a sense of permission to try things and grow into her self. Such an influence was her Nature Museum program, where with other junior high kids, she did things like blazing trails and learned about the outdoors, a really formative experience for one who is quite a naturalist now.

Anna noticed that the permission-asking aspect of our topic related to something she was currently experiencing. She described a situation in which she was feeling her permission had not been asked about something she didn’t want and would not have allowed if asked. And was feeling perhaps taken advantage of. The rest of us tried to underline her rights as property owner and urge her to assert them, and we discussed possible ways of doing that, on which she was going to follow through.

We decided that it would be most fitting if we gave today’s offering to Playing For Change Foundation’s program in support of the Tintale Village Mothers’ Society in Nepal, which works to prevent human trafficking.


The hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world.
—W. R. Wallace

When you’re laughing because your 3-year-old made a fart joke, it doesn’t matter what else is going on. That’s real happiness.
—Gwyneth Paltrow


Sunday, June 9th, 2013 (10:30), at Vijaya’s backyard garden (or apartment if it’s rainy). The topic is WALKING/ WANDERING/ WONDERING. (We’ll still meet at 1030 as Peacemakers PeaceMeal is being rescheduled for another day.)


from Cynthia in Florida:

This year marks 20 years since my mom died, so my “2 cents” for discussion: There is an African belief that a person has 2 stages of death—1st when the body actually dies, and 2nd, when there is no one left alive who remembers that person. Mom has many persons who remember—and love her dearly, still! She was a good mother, sister and grandmother—there are 5 children, one sister and 13 grandchildren, and many nieces and nephews keeping her spirit alive in their memories! And many friends from her hometowns. That eases the sorrow for days we did not get to spend together…

from Nancy:

Appeal To Womanhood Throughout The World
Arise, then, women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts, Whether our baptism be of water or of tears!
Say firmly: “We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies, Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience. We, the women of one country, will be too tender of those of another country To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.”
From the bosom of the devastated Earth a voice goes up with our own. It says: “Disarm! Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice.” Blood does not wipe out dishonor, nor violence indicate possession. As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil at the summons of war, Let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel.
Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead. Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means Whereby the great human family can live in peace, Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar, But of God.
In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask That a general congress of women without limit of nationality May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient And at the earliest period consistent with its objects, To promote the alliance of the different nationalities, The amicable settlement of international questions,
The great and general interests of peace.
-Julia Ward Howe, founder of Mothers’ Day, 1872

from Sue:

Our theme led me to contemplate the ideas of getting permission, and the forbidden and the allowed–and how they relate to my mother, my children & motherhood, and Mother Earth.

  • “As we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence actually liberates others.” ~Marianne Williamson
  • “It is often easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission.” ~Grace Hopper
  • “There are three ways to get something done: do it yourself, hire someone, or forbid your kids to do it.” ~Mona Crane
  • “The more things are forbidden, the more popular they become.” ~Mark Twain



1 person is chosen to play the Mother.
The rest of the players stand in a line facing her a short distance away.
The aim of the game is to cross the space and touch the Mother
But you can only move one at a time following instructions given by the Mother.
Mother will give an instruction to each person in turn–such as “player’s name, take one giant and three baby steps forward.” The player must say, Mother, May I? and receive permission from the Mother. Then he/she follows the instruction.
If you forget to say “May I” or don’t do the steps correctly you have to go back to Start.
The first one to reach the Mother becomes the next Mother.
“Gratitude is the beginning of wisdom,” Ted Williams, Tuscarora Healer
My brother’s step-daughter Annie’s
the only kid, but she persuades
us all-her mom, my brother,
me, my beautiful daughter (age 21, pillar
of light and smoky shadow), my dad (age 79,
the rigidity of Parkinson’s Disease jerking
all his limbs), to play….Freeze-
Tag first until Grandpa topples,
lies laughing on his back so long
it looks like dying. He creaks up, breathless,
eager to play again, so we switch to slower games
of wit and timing-Red light-Green light, Simon Says,
Mother-May-I-until convulsed with laughter,
we’re stuttering, “Go-Stop!” “Simon Says
do what?” “Do this!” Is all of life
a repetition of these ancient sacred games?
“Mother….Mother may I?”
No you may not, You may take
three steps back. You may try
again. Reaching for her, we have
all the yearning; she has
all the say as we struggle to perfect
polite obedience, until we master
respect and courtesy as forms
of gratitude, and gratitude
repeated turns to worship, becomes
wisdom, becomes permission….
to finally reach, replace, become Her.
May each of us play long enough
to get a turn. Mother may I?
Yes you may.

~Susan Fantl Spivack, 3/15/99


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