GNL number 116

a report of doings at meeting #116, Sunday, March 12, 2017

including liturgical items, major themes. and other odds and ends


It is spring again. The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart.

—–Rainer Maria Rilke

Can words describe the fragrance of the very breath of spring?

—–Neltje Blanchen

First a howling blizzard woke us,

Then the rain came down to soak us,

And now before the eye can focus,


—–Lilja Rogers


Nancy opened this meeting on SPRING Forward/Forth/Ahead, seeing it as coming forth, through change, into a new place. Much needed by her, and she thought, by America. She was hearing a voice saying not only rise up out of this wind and cold, but out of our Delirium Tremens national nightmare—can we come through into the daylight of a national awakening, and confront life in present and past America. Sounded like a prayer, and a vow, to become real citizens of the US, and of the earth. A new birth, maybe? See AfterWords for N and Q.

Ann had lots of quotes, 6-wordies too, and recalled a very strong, positive memory from her childhood in Connecticut. The scene she pictured for us was of her and her mother working in her family’s large, well-treed yard in the fresh early spring to clear the way for drainage, and otherwise take care of the land. And she strongly remembered as well how much this meant to her mom, and said it was one of her own fondest memories of mom and home.

Gail was keenly aware of the seasons as change, and said she was reminded of the changes now going on in her family. Just back from a visit in Florida with her mom and dad, who’ve recently had serious health issues, and then learning of her sister’s serious illness, Gail has been reminded that she can help. And as someone who’s spent much time outdoors, and in different parts of the country, she spoke of learning to appreciate subtle changes in season even in the mostly warm southern states.

Sue gave us the benefit of her word research, including spring as water, and as spiral in some tools, and then from her Torah studies, the living waters in the Mikveh purifying rituals. She also brought a Billy Collins poem and one of her own, and read several topical quotes, including some surprising ones about spirals, for instance from Goethe and others, about the progress of civilization, that seemed might be speaking to us in today’s world. See AW for her N and Q.

Marge spoke of how she wouldn’t want to be without the four seasons we have here, even with all this recent cold and wind. And she gave special appreciation for spring’s vernal equinox name that’s explanatory of what happens, with the sun crossing the equator, with day and night equal. And she even sang us a stirring rendition of that wonderful part of the musical Carousel, that celebrates the seasons and culminates in the rousing “June is Busting Out All Over!”

Our offering today was taken by Sue, to be given to an organization for refugee assistance.


Dead my old fine hopes

And dry my dreaming but still….

Iris, blue each spring.

—–Basho Matsuo

Spring: the music of open windows.

—–Terry Guillemets


Sunday, April 9, 2017, at Marge’s home at 113 Prospect St., Cobleskill. The subject is Through the Dark, Into the Light, and 6wordies, if you like.


from Nancy

Music comes from an icicle as it melts, to live again as

spring water. —–Henry Williamson

Every spring is the only spring—a perpetual astonishment.

—–Ellis Peters

Despite the forecast, live like it’s spring.

—–Lilly Pulitzer

And some signs of spring I especially love:

the birds, singing and chittering,

the air, so distinctly fresh and new,

the smiles we’re all wearing,

and the clothes we’re not!

from Ann

a kidhood memory:

Spring has sprung, the grass has riz,

I wonder where the flowers is.

Some people say the bird is on the wing,

But that’s absurd,

The wing is on the bird.

Robin in the Late Afternoon

The window’s open, so I hear

each crystal note. Even with eyes closed,

I know a robin when I hear one,

telling the air between us how happy he is

about the soft rain and its summons

to the worms in the dark underground.

A pause. And then he sings again

from a more distant branch, but just as clear.

Or is it his mate? No matter, it’s a robin song,

a shower for the heart. I am no worm.

I do not tunnel under sod. But I am called,

beckoned into fresh hopefulness.

Bless God for birds, their vowels

pure and persuasive as spring rain.

—–Luci Shaw, 5/20/13

Spring verse from the Old Farmer’s Almanac:

One swallow does not make a spring.

Bluebirds are a sign of spring; warm weather and gentle south breezes they bring.

In spring, no one thinks of the snow that fell last year.

Don’t say that spring has come until you can put your foot on nine daisies.

Spring-time sweet! The whole earth smiles, thy coming to greet.

When spring came, even the false spring, there were no problems except where to be happiest. The only thing that could spoil a day was people and if you could keep from making engagements, each day had no limits. People were always the limiters of happiness except for the very few that were as good as spring itself.—–Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast

If people did not love one another, I really don’t see what use there would be in having any spring. —–Victor Hugo, Les Miserables

          It’s spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you’ve got it, you want—oh, you          don’t quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!—–Mark Twain

Spring work is going on with joyful enthusiasm.—–John Muir, The Wilderness World

My seasons:

Autumn is a vividly colorful denouement,

Winter is stripped down bare essentials,

Spring is herky/jerky disappointment/hope,

Summer is bountiful busyness.

Spring is a block of days on the calendar,

Yet it comes in fits and starts.

Our lungs and minds are refreshed with

Hope and cheer, plans and dreams.

Then blustery snow squalls punish us

And winter’s grip lingers to traumatize us.

But the light is changing,

The yellow of the willows is brightening

And we wait for the inevitable,

And it is so worth the wait.

Six wordies:

Spring doesn’t stand still for anything.

We can’t do without spring’s promise.

Molting, shedding, sloughing off is spring.

Spring comes slowly, goes too fast.

from Sue

Entymology–spring (n.2) Look up spring at
“source of a stream or river, flow of water rising to the surface of the earth from below,” Old English spring “spring, source, sprinkling,” from spring (v.) on the notion of the water “bursting forth” from the ground. Rarely used alone in Old English, appearing more often in compounds, such as wyllspring “wellspring,” espryng “water spring.” Figurative sense of “source or origin of something” is attested from early 13c. Cognate with Old High German sprung “source of water,” Middle High German sprinc “leap, jump; source of water.”

“Daylight saving time: Only the government would believe that you could cut a foot off the top of a blanket, sew it to the bottom, and have a longer blanket.” – Anonymous
“When you drink the water, remember the spring.”  Chinese Proverb
“In seed time learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy.”  ~ William Blake

Thinking about springs (as in a tool or machine)–got to googling “spiral” quotations:
“The spiral in a snail’s shell is the same mathematically as the spiral in the Milky Way galaxy, and it’s also the same mathematically as the spirals in our DNA. It’s the same ratio that you’ll find in very basic music that transcends cultures all over the world.”  ~Joseph Gordon-Levitt

“The stream of civilisation flows on like a river: it is rapid in mid- current, slow at the sides, and has its backwaters. At best, civilisation advances by spirals.” ~Sabine Baring-Gould
“Progress has not followed a straight ascending line, but a spiral with rhythms of progress and retrogression, of evolution and dissolution.”  ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
“Modern man must descend the spiral of his own absurdity to the lowest point; only then can he look beyond it. It is obviously impossible to get around it, jump over it, or simply avoid it.”   ~ Vaclav Havel

Talking about the “Living waters” in Torah, and other myths about watering holes inhabited by spirits (demons & gift givers)—–Waters of Life, Miriam’s Well and other Wells in Torah

Jewish uses of the Mikveh– Most forms of impurity can be nullified through immersion in any natural collection of water. However, some impurities….require “living water,” such as springs or groundwater wells. Living water has the further advantage of being able to purify even while flowing, as opposed to rainwater which must be stationary in order to purify. The mikveh is designed to simplify this requirement, by providing a bathing facility that remains in ritual contact with a natural source of water.  ……………..The existence of a mikveh is considered so important in Orthodox Judaism that an Orthodox community is required to construct a mikveh before building a synagogue, and must go to the extreme of selling Torah scrolls or even a synagogue if necessary, to provide funding for the construction.[6]

Read “Water Table” by Billy Collins –

My own poem:

The Wave/Walking on the water

by Susan Fantl Spivack
This is what it looks like:

You are in the water— you

are drowning or you are

struggling to the surface, you

are swimming through yourself—you

are not walking

on the water—you

are pulling yourself

through wetness, you are lifting

your interior ocean

above the other drowning

ocean.  You give a name

to this, you call it

miracle, call it ecstasy,

call it wisdom.  It happens

or it doesn’t happen

every day of your life.



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