GNL number 75

a report of doings at meeting #75, Sunday, August 18, 2013
including liturgical notes, major themes, and other odds and ends

INVOCATION

Children have never been very good at listening to their elders,
but they have never failed to imitate them.~~James A. Baldwin


THEME

After providing today’s Invocation, Sue opened our conversation on Things the Grownups Told Us with more good quotes and several aphorisms from her parents, especially her mother, who had a philosophical bent. Among the former was Pastor Martin Niemoeller’s famous “In Germany, first they came for….” (see AFTERWORD), which she said still guides her attention to injustice. Among her mom’s words was the message, also formative, that you can have/do it all—marriage, career, kids. More in AW.

We were so happy to have Gail’s multi-generational family with us: she and her mom Ginny, and grandgirl Virginia. First, Ginny recalled gratefully her growing up in NYC among so many ethnic groups that she learned not to fear “different” people, and she remembered too some of the wise guidance of her dad, who was a cop. Later in the meetiing, with Gail’s and Virginia’s additions, the family story pot grew even richer.

Ann was one of several who described getting indirect messages more than pointed words. She spoke of growing up in a family where she was not only the young one but preceded by a much older sister and another who had a more acting-out style, so she had learned what was expected of her not so much from direct words but from watching her parents’ objections to her sister’s behaviors. (So all she needed was an evil eye from her mom to proceed with caution!)

Anna also recalled learning more from her parents’ choices and behavior than their direct words to her: she credits her own lifelong habit of frugality to them, remembering the strong impression it had on her that her mother started a shop to help with expenses in those post-depresssion days in NYC. And she remembered how they sent her and her sister to Pioneer Camp, where they got exposure not only to folk-singer icons like Leadbelly just out of prison, but left-wing social-political thinking.

Nancy was another who had found she didn’t remember direct dictums from the grown ups, but grew up with a sense of being rather on her own in a family that was not very communicative and troubled by alcoholism. Much older than her siblings, she feels it’s not too surprising she wanted lots of kids, and it’s been the greatest grace that this is what happened: 6 children and 10 grandkids, with whom she had just had the pure delight of vacationing!

Gail enlarged on a family figure Ginny also mentioned and who sounds legendary: kind and free-thinking, wildly red-haired Aunt Emma, who loved all the family’s children and forgave them anything. Aunt Emma who fed the poor at the door, and probably later sold a length of that red hair for a good cause. And then Virginia reminded Gail about something Ginny is famous for telling her children, and among the three of them it was told: the warning that if you tell a lie—real one not a white one—your tongue will grow black spots! We discreetly didn’t ask to see their tongues. But we did ask Virginia at the end of this all over the place conversation, Are we crazy? And she answered No, just half-crazy. (Or did she mean Just half as crazy as our family?)

We agreed to give today’s offering to Masjid Al-Salaam, the mosque where on August 4, Elliott and his fellow hunger-striker Tarak broke their long fasts in solidarity with those fasting at Guantanamo Bay prison.


BENEDICTION

Listen to your elders not because they are always right but
because they have more experiences of being wrong.~~Unknown


NEXT TIME

Sunday, September 8 (1030), at Gail’s in Worcester. The topic will be COMMUNITY (all kinds), and Adair will be visiting from Maine and plans to be there too.


AFTERWORDS

From Sue:

Pastor Martin Niemoeller:

“In Germany, they first came for the communists and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a communist.

Then they came for the Jews and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew.

Then they came for the trade unionists and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant.

Then they came for me and by that time nobody was left to speak up.”

Another quote I wish I had read:

“Healthy children will not fear life if their elders have integrity enough not to fear death.”~~Erik Erikson

Also cited the Interview with Mark Dowie, in the Sun, discussing his recent book, Conservation Refugees: The Hundred-Year Conflict between Global Conservation and Native Peoples.

Aphorisms from my mom:

  • A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.
  • The purpose of life is to seek the purpose of life.
  • (re the latest lean in book for women) You can have it all/do it all-i.e. career, marriage, kids.
  • Good things come in small packages.
  • Sticks and stones can break your bones but names will never hurt you.

from my dad: Always use two hands.

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