GNL number 78

a report of doings at meeting #78, Sunday, November 10, 2013
including liturgical items, major themes, and other odds and ends


Action expresses priorities. ~ Mahatma Gandhi

The most important thing in life is knowing the most important things in life. ~ David F. Jakielo, writer and humorist


Before we began this conversation on PRIORITIES, Nancy and Cynthia gave an update on Gail, who’d recently had knee replacement surgery, but is making good progress, and sends her love. In addition to the great support of Virginia, Gail’s sister Winnie was there till last week, and niece Sherri was due to come for a few days, then mom Ginny late in the month. Gail is really looking forward to being able to drive again around the 26th, and expects to see us next Skippy.

Louise then started the topical talk, saying first, yes, as we had noticed, her chicken farm and good, healthy food are her priorities, and related to that, doing her part to model a healthy, earth-supporting way of life.  This has included her practice of inviting interns—there have been many over the years— to come learn and help at the farm. And then she recalled her previous life as a teacher of Brooklyn Tech kids and the priority she had those 35 years, for giving them the curriculum, choices of books, and ways to learn that fit them best.

Sue had just emerged from a bout with mold in her house that had infected walls, lots of books, records, et. al., and dealing with it had bumped her and Jay’s other priorities. Not only were the maddening clean-up, sorting and disposal top priority for several days, but figuring out how two people with different styles, etc. can do those things together was a priority too. She did come to look at the experience as a gift leading them to downsize. Another longtime priority, her poetry, was about to take special attention: she said a book of her poems, In the Garden, would be introduced at a reception next week.  (Sue also gave us word-origin info and quotes, for which see AFTERWORDS.)

Vijaya said this year more than ever, her priority has become being her own friend, doing what she needs to do for herself, like staying home this winter instead of spending the 3 months back in India.  And as her sister had reminded her, no need for self-criticism; God has contracted out your criticisms to the relatives!  She also spoke of her increased attention to her health.  She’d been told recently she probably has rheumatoid arthritis, so has been making stretching, walking and doing steps a priority.

Nancy saw first her need to keep reexamining, making more conscious her priorities, to truly act on them.  Then, questions: what are you doing too much of? (Sorting and organizing her accumulated stuff. Which pointed sharply back to her deep desire to live more simply, need less.) And what are you not doing enough of, and want to do more? (Be right here fully, right now. Spend as much time as possible Outside, in the natural world. Connect with people everyday, especially loved ones. Laugh, at the least provocation. Express thanks, to people, to the universe, in words, song, pictures. Work for life on earth and peace on earth. Lend hands. Sing. Dance.)  Quotes in AW.

Cynthia had a surprisingly similar horror story to Sue’s, we could call Mold Disaster II, and within the same time period. Cyn and Ron’s mold was concentrated in their cellar, but involved everything stored there. So like Sue and Jay, they first had the mess itself to deal with, then deciding how and what to dump or save, when to stop, etc., first dropping priorities like her art for the crisis, and then finding ways to work together. They did it, and learned a lot in the process, she said, like her insight that MOLD is the new worst 4-letter word in the lexicon. (Yes, another similarity to S and J’s tale: Cynthia during this time had art shows and her calendar in preparation.)

Knowing that more Americans than ever are in need of food, we chose to direct today’s offering to the Northeast Regional Food Bank.


What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? ~ Mark: 8:36

To put the world in order, we must first put the nation in order; to put the nation in order, we must put the family in order; to put the family in order, we must cultivate our personal life; to cultivate our personal life, we must first set our hearts right. ~ Confucius


Sunday, December 15, 2013, 10:30, at Vijaya’s apartment in Cobleskill.  The topic is What Did I Bring With Me From My Household of Origin?  (We’ll start promptly, so Sue can leave early.)


from Sue:

Here’s the definition I worked from and the quotations and my final question about it all; at the bottom is Rabbi Rachel Barenblat’s question about what we take from our “household of origin.”

pri·or·i·ty. 1. Precedence, especially established by order of importance or urgency. 3. A preceding or coming earlier in time. 4. Something afforded or deserving prior attention. [Middle English priorite, from Old French, from Medieval Latin prioritas, from Latin prior, first.]


  • “The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” ~Stephen Covey

  • “Sometimes things in life happen that allow us to understand our priorities very clearly. Ultimately you can see those as gifts.” ~ Mariska Hargitay

  • “Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.” ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

What would it be like to live without priorities—always in the present moment?

And here’s Reb Barenblat to help you come up with our topic for next time:

“I like the idea that there is something each of us takes from our household of origin when we set off on our own to create our own homes and families. What from my parents’ household has come to me…? What did I bring with me, knowingly and unknowingly? How do the talismans and the stories of my childhood continue to shape me and my house, and what will they mean to my son as he grows?” velveteenrabbi

If you want, you can read the poem she wrote and a little about the events in Genesis 31:19-35 that inspired these questions.

from Nancy:

Here are some quotes that reverberated with my own priorities.

  • We depend on this planet to eat, drink, breathe and live. Figuring out how to keep our life support system running needs to be our #1 priority.  Nothing is more important than finding a way to live together—justly, respectfully, joyfully—on the only planet we can call home. ~ Annie Leonard, film maker: The Story of Stuff: How our Obsession with Stuff is Trashing the Planet, Our Communities, and our Health—and a Vision For Change

  • The only thing a cat worries about is what’s happening right now.  As we tell the kittens, you can only wash one paw at a time. ~ Lloyd Alexander, from Time Cat.

  • I do not particularly like the word “work”.  Human beings are the only animals who have to work, and I think that is the most ridiculous thing in the world.  Other animals make their living by living, but people work like crazy, thinking that they have to in order to stay alive. It would be good to give up that way of thinking and live an easy, comfortable life with plenty of free time.  I think that the way animals live in the tropics, stepping outside in the morning and evening to see if there is something to eat and taking a long nap in the afternoon, must be a wonderful life.  For human beings, a life of such simplicity would be possible if one worked to produce his daily necessities. In such a life, work is not work as people generally think of it, but simply doing what needs to be done. ~ Masanobu Fukuoka, in The One-Straw Revolution: an Introduction to Natural Farming. 1975


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