GNL number 95

a report of doings at meeting #95, Sunday, June 21, 2015
including liturgical items, major themes, and other odds and ends


However rare true love is, true friendship is rarer. ~La Rochefoucault

But he never said, “I told you so.” Because that’s not what friends are for. ~James Marshall, speaking of George, in George and Martha Encore


Sue opened this reunion with our Maine friend Adair, and conversation on Friends Near and Far. She gave us some fine quotes and a lovely poem of her own; and spoke of dear friends, near and not so, with whom she talks regularly, and how these friendships and the listening and being listened to, have been very important to her. She noted that women seem to do this more commonly than men, and it may well be a strong factor in their living longer! She also spoke of spiritual friends, like Rumi, from whom she read as well. (See AFTERWORDS.)

Nancy thought first of her decision a couple years ago to stay in this community—how important friends are. The topic suggested COS: old friendships deepening and new ones made (like the many guests we’ve brought, some like Gail’s Virginia and Ginny, ‘regulars’). And beyond COS, her pleasure in recent reconnection with 3 old college friends, reminding her of other friends to relocate, and of those who’ve passed on, like Jack, Christine, Julia. And then realizing she has friends known and loved through their writing—Mary Oliver, Wendell Berry, Kurt Vonnegut, many others.

We were so happy to be joined today by Adair, who was visiting her very ill friend Maddie. Adair spoke of her and their wonderful unlikely friendship, in spite of little in common, and of another friend who’d influenced her about Maine, but had now taken a different path there. She noted her own history of not forming many close friendships, and that her strongest three in recent years had ended in the friends’ early deaths. Now in Maine she hasn’t jumped into close friendships, but has been going to some group meetings at the local, open-hearted, Unitarian-Universalist church.

Janay described herself as an introvert, not needing face-to-face contact so much, and feeling with today’s technology, you don’t have to be out of touch with others. She also spoke of attending the recent reunion of her school, St. Ann’s Prep in Brooklyn Heights, where she’d really enjoyed the getting back together, as she’d enjoyed St. Ann’s when she was a student there. She also spoke of her fine feathered friends at home, of course, including the new, rather humanoid, giant chicken!

Our other chicken farmer, Louise, first thought of friendships right in her family; she said she and two of her sisters are close friends, and her daughter often refers to her as both mom and friend, and means it. She spoke of wishing for more time for friendships, but feels the demands made by the farm life to which she’s committed make that hard to do. (She added, those chickens now number 400!) But she also made clear she’d like to have us come here again next month for Skippy too. Agreed with pleasure.

Ann too identified herself as one not extroverted, but taking her cultural cues from an older sister growing up. Then she told of a recent experience strong in her mind: she and Ell had gone to a deeply appreciative memorial service for a friend, actually a Friend/Quaker, who’d done much in his life. And some later privately worried about his wife’s now being on her own. But Ann though not a close friend, was feeling compelled to write her a note encouraging her to trust herself to find her way, and asked our input. And we all felt yes, appropriate, an act of kindness and friendship. Ann repeated her belief trust was key in friendship. And we too felt trusted to be asked.

Anna had brought friends to Skippy before, and we helped her remember old friend from the city, Dwayne, who came when Jack was still able to attend, and was so taken with Jack’s glowing presence. And later, when she brought a friend she’d met at the Singles group in the Albany area, Anna C, who then came to meetings quite regularly till she moved. We also gave our Anna great feedback on her travel journal from friend-fans like Elliott: “wonderful!”

Conscious of its immediate, profound need, we readily agreed to send our offering to the House of Flowers Orphanage in Kabul, Afghanistan.


Of all the things which wisdom provides to make life entirely happy, much the greatest is the possession of friendship. ~Epicurus


Sunday, July 19, 2015 (1030), at Louise’s Sky Hill farm. The topic: Death, or Life into Death into Life.


from Sue:

“Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.” ~Albert Camus

“I would rather walk with a friend in the dark, than alone in the light.” ~Helen Keller

“She is a friend of mind. She gather me, man. The pieces I am, she gather them and give them back to me in all the right order. It’s good, you know, when you got a woman who is a friend of your mind.” ~Toni Morrison, Beloved

“No person is your friend who demands your silence, or denies your right to grow.” ~Alice Walker

“Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. “Pooh?” he whispered.
“Yes, Piglet?”
“Nothing,” said Piglet, taking Pooh’s hand. “I just wanted to be sure of you.” ~ A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

“I always felt that the great high privilege, relief and comfort of friendship was that one had to explain nothing.” ~Katherine Mansfield

2 Rumi Poems

One who does what the Friend wants done
will never need a friend.

There’s a bankruptcy that’s pure gain.
The moon stays bright when it
doesn’t avoid the night.

A rose’s rarest essence
lives in the thorn.
~From Soul of Rumi by Coleman Barks

“The friend comes into my body
looking for the center, unable
to find it, draws a blade,
strikes anywhere.”
~The Essential Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks

let us be cherubs on the ark
by Susan Fantl Spivack

winged ones, animal bodies
not man, not woman
human faces
not woman, not man
turned toward each other
eyes wide, mouths agape
our open flowing
of the cosmos gazing inward
through herself, flowing
outward through himself
listening through engagement
through struggle
through embrace and tangled
turning, coiling round
and into all that ever
was, all that ever will
be, here—not
you, not me—always,


who meet in love


from Nancy:

One’s friends are that part of the human race with which one can be human. ~George Santanyana.

From Ann:

Friends don’t live nearby, so what?
Friend-ship is a vessel carefully filled.
Propinquity is not a friendship requirement.


1 Comment

  1. Phil said,

    July 13, 2015 at 9:58 pm

    A letter from Allison Lide:

    I just read Nancy’s transcript of your latest COS meeting, and was inspired as always. I love what you do!

    And then at the end of it I saw that you dedicated your collection to the House of Flowers in our time of urgent need, and I was again touched and inspired In fact, it matches perfectly the theme of COS – friendship, friends far and near. Thank you so very much! The energy and support you have given over the years continues to be a great source of strength and love. We have made the step of deciding to keep the House open (we had almost decided it would need to close due to finances, but we’ve received some generous donations to make it possible) and so you can know that your donations will go to keeping the House open for the children in Kabul. The staff was absolutely adamant that it should stay open, and they even made budget cuts and reduced their own salaries to make it happen. So how could we not make it work?!

    I hope you all have a wonderful summer full of insight and warmth and growth.

    With love and gratitude,

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