GNL number 81

a report of doings at meeting #81, Sunday, February 9, 2014
including liturgical items, major themes, and other odds and ends


The key to keeping your balance is knowing when you’ve lost it.~~~Anonymous

The word “happiness” would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness.~~~Carl Jung

What is joy without sorrow? What is success without failure? What is a win without a loss?  What is health without illness? You have to experience each if you are to appreciate the other.~~~Mark Twain

Live a balanced life — learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.~~~Robert Fulghum


Ann opened this meeting on BALANCE though she wasn’t here, because she’d  emailed us her thoughts on the subject, which Nancy read to the group.  These included several very provocative questions, and four great 6-wordies that sounded like a poem to us.  All very much appreciated and a perfect setting of the stage. Her notes appear in AFTERWORDS.

Sue said she’d found herself steeped in the topic this month, and reported many findings.  Among them, very insightful statements from a website called WisdomCommons, quotes from other wise ones, like Thich Nhat Hanh, and two very useful questions. (See AW for all.)  She noted that the idea of balance was implicit in some earlier meetings, e.g., on Priorities, and Enough; and spoke of her own efforts to find balance daily through conscious practices that reflect her true values (and also how helpful it’s been learning to stand balanced on one leg for a minute). She recalled too a  re-grounding energy experience years ago when she was training to do Green Circle programs. 

Anna told the story of a new cat in the house in addition to her dear friend Tailless. The extra cat, who normally lives at her daughter Janay’s house, was brought in by J, who spends most of the time at Anna’s. This cat came to be helper, in anticipation of the return from the vet of J’s other cat, who’d be recuperating and in need of a familiar friend,  to relax and return to balance. This also reminded us how connections/relationships among creatures, including humans, can be complementary.

Cynthia again brought her datebook, this time to show a picture perfectly illustrating today’s theme, a girl doing a balancing act on a  wire. Then she read the first part of a poem she’d just written on our subject, and promised to conclude it next time. And she told us about a recent trip she’d made with Gail for G’s appointment with mutual friend Dawn, who does energy work, balance-restoring in a sense; though Cyn was concerned her own presence might be in the way, this was not the case—C was impressed.  She spoke too of complementarity in relationships, e.g. how Ron will notice before she does when she needs to get out of the house.

Gail continued the story of her energy work with Dawn, which was helpful, and spoke as well of the complementarity in her marriage with Cliff.  She noted how different it is now, more difficult than when he was alive, for her to feel balanced, as he was so grounded in nature and the farm, and helped her find that too in balance for the strong part of her that has always been  the curious traveler-adventurer. She also expressed her gratitude to Sue for modeling conscious effort to find balance between inner examination and outer works.

Vijaya spoke of experiencing anxious feelings, perhaps an unbalance,  in recent weeks without really knowing why, but later it seemed one of the reasons might be staying here for the winter instead of going back to India as usual. Unanimous agreement then too,  that this has been the coldest, longest, toughest winter we can remember and reason enough for us all to feel anxious, tense, depressed, and out of balance.  Then V talked of her background with healing sessions; she had studied healing, and Reiki, for 2 years, and described a vivid experience in a training when she had felt energy moving down her back, like water going down a pipe and clearing it of blockage.

Nancy said she realized that for most of the time since last meeting, she’d been in a state of dazed and confused unbalance—more than usual—with the ongoing question of whether to buy a different place in town and move. She realized too that back in December when we talked about Priorities and she was asking what am I doing too much of and not enough of, that she was looking for balance. She was reminded of the yin/yang symbol—opposites fitting together in balance, each needing the other to make One. And she brought some quotes from others wiser than her, speaking of different aspects of balance.  See AW.

We decided today’s offering should go to an organization that has been working very hard to protect our region from despoliation by the gas industry, Stop the Pipeline.


We need to find the “middle way” in our own lives.  It is the art of finding balance.  Reflecting upon our lives, we soon discover what serves us well—nurturing, calmness, ease, and simplicity.  We also discover what it is that leads to entanglement, confusion, distress, and anxiety.  Wisdom is being able to discern the difference, and then knowing what we need to nurture and where we need to learn to let go.~~~Christina Feldman


Sunday, March 9, 2014 (1030), at Nancy’s in Cobleskill.  The topic is SPRING FORWARD, hopefully enough.


from Ann:

Some thoughts about “balance” in addition to the brief conversation we had over tea and coffee at the diner; maintaining balance by either focusing on the minute or by not focusing on anything in particular,  how come both work.

Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary (“Thin Paper” edition which belonged
 to by brother, dated 1950) defines balance, among other things, “Such a
 balance as the emblem of Justice or of Fortune making decisions; hence,
 any means of determining human values; as, to be weighed in the balance
 and found wanting….” That’s surely one definition to chew on.

I have lots of questions: Who gets to decide when something is
 balanced? And at what moment is balance measured? Is balance a middle
 range or a point, which may be not stable for long? Can balance be more
 than two sides/facets/conditions? We often talk about the balance of
 nature, just what does that mean?

You often hear that balance allows for calm and peace, good luck with
 that. Or is it that peace and calm signifies balance? Seems so fleeting.

 6 wordies

 On one hand, then on another.
 Balancing is really just an act.
 Tit for tat, this for that.
 Are opposites in balance still opposites?

 from Sue:

“Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.” ~~~Thích Nhất Hạnh, Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life

“A saint does not dissolve the chaos; if he did, the world would have changed long ago… It is a kind of balance that is his glory. He rides the drifts like an escaped ski.”~~~Leonard Cohen

From Wisdom Commons

“Balance recognizes that many good things in life are good only in moderation. There really can be too much of something wonderful. Most virtues, taken to excess become vices. When an interest, affection, or endeavor becomes utterly consuming, it doesn’t allow room for other kinds of goodness.

Implicit in the concept of balance is the notion that two very different things are true at once, and both must be heeded. Simply illustrated, we need to work, and we need to play. We need to give out, and we need to replenish. We need to go wild, and we need to be calm. Each of us is prone to fall out of balance in our own way. To maintain balance requires that we value balance. It also requires intention, mindfulness, and self-discipline.”

2 questions: What does balance look like in a person? What does balance look like in a society?

More quotations:

“Laws too gentle are seldom obeyed; too severe, seldom executed.” ~~~Benjamin Franklin

“One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture and, if it were possible, speak a few reasonable words.” ~Goethe

“If you possess a library and a garden, you have everything you need.”~~~Cicero

Pete Seeger, “To Everything There Is a Season”
History of Dove as peace symbol

from Nancy:

Ups and downs are normal.  Being ill on occasion is normal.  Feeling peaceful and happy is normal.  Occasional low-energy days are normal.  According to Chinese medicine, it is accepted as natural that we fluctuate from being in balance to being out of balance.  Peace of mind comes from not attaching a great deal of significance to either state.  We simply note our moods and physical states and gently move toward balance as best we can, accepting it all as part of the flow of life.~~~Charlotte Davis Kasl

How can we prioritize equally important but seemingly opposite things?  For example, take discipline and effort on the one hand—achieving goals, being productive, making things happen—paired, on the other hand, with letting life be, with just being rather than doing.  We obviously need discipline in order to achieve anything of value: education, work, love, health. Yet, when discipline takes on a life of its own, striving becomes our mode of being rather than an occasional means of achieving important ends.  Coming back to balance requires seeing this addictive striving for what it is—otherwise it will continue to run our life.~~~Ezra Bayda

To find deep joy, which is radically different from being busy, distracted, or entertained, always takes a balance of heart.  As one meditation teacher put it, “you can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.”….Learning that poise and balance is the greatest skill in spiritual life: knowing when energy and resolution is needed and when it is time to soften and surrender; knowing when we need greater faith or greater inquiry; listening to the rhythms of our own heart as it tells us it is a time to seek greater solitude and simplicity or a  time for service, to make our care and love visible.  There is no formula for this responsiveness.  We must simply learn to listen with an open heart to what is ever in this moment, this day, this life.~~~Christina Feldman and Jack Kornfield, in the anthology, Soul Food


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