GNL number 126

a report of doings at meeting #126, Sunday, February 11, 2018,
including liturgical items, major themes, and other odds and ends


We don’t need to have just one favorite. We keep adding favorites.
Our favorite book is always the book that speaks most directly to us
at a particular stage in our lives. And our lives change. We have
other favorites that give us whatever we most need at that particular
time. But we never lose the old favorites. They’re always with us.
We just sort of accumulate them. —– novelist Lloyd Alexander


Nancy opened this conversation on FAVORITES, admitting, no surprise,
her favorite thing is music.She brought some examples, new and old:
first a cd of traditional music of Brittany recently brought back by
her daughter, which we played at lunch. Then, reminded of old
favorites from old days up on the hill when the kids were growing up
listening to traditional Irish songs, she sang one called Eileen
Aroon. And she had too to read a couple of favorite poet Mary Oliver’s
poems. See AFTERWORD for her notes.

Marge, who said her favorite thing is travel, brought us a show’n’tell
of her and Don’s fabulous trip to New Zealand in 2011(only weeks after
his bypass surgery). They went on their own, staying in B&Bs and
meeting local people who were very friendly and helpful. She said one
of their most memorable encounters was with the little penguins who
would walk up to you. And she showed us photos, cards, memorabilia
from this beautiful country in a scrapbook she’d made (as she’d made
from each of their trips all over the world).

Gail brought us a list of her favorites in categories, introducing it
as short and simple and not really a poem—but we thought it
beautiful and coming very close. It follows here:
My Favorites
The Flower—the one that is blooming now.
The Bird—what is flying by.
The Weather—It’s what’s coming from the sky
The Place—where ever I am at.
The Movie—whatever the mood calls for.
The Person—who I’m enjoying at the moment.
The Activity—the one I am participating in now.
My Favorite is the Love of Living Life.

Ann introduced her comments as brief and simple too, as she had one
very strong sense of favorite that dated from years ago—what
Favorite Time feels like when you’re finally out of school and
liberated from the rule, agenda, requirements, choices of institutions
like school, and free finally to decide things like what books to read
for yourself! Feels like joy and relief, and that’s the memory and
feeling her comment called up for the rest of us too!

Sue first gave us her word research on Favorite, and quotes, including
from a favorite teacher, the Teaching on Love, by Thich Nhat Hanh. But
most, she told us about one of her favorite things of recent times,
her Torah studies, which she’s been doing with a friend once a week,
and on her own more often during the week. These explorations,
especially into the writings of Avivah Zornberg, have become more and
more important to her, a path to learning how to live one’s life well.
For her notes and quotes, see AW.

We decided it was time to send our offering to one of our favorite
programs, the House of Flowers in Afghanistan.


I don’t care if I can’t sing. This is my favorite song. Therefore I will sing.

I love songs. Songs are my favorite things.—-Fresh Air’s Terry Gross


:Sunday, March 11, 2018 (1030), at Nancy’s house inCobleskill. The subject is


from Nancy:

Eileen Aroon
(after the Gaelic of Carol O’Day, 17th c poet)

I know a valley fair, Eileen Aroon,
I know a cottage there, Eileen Aroon,
Far in the valley shade, I know a tender maid,
Flower of the hazel glade, Eileen Aroon.

Who in the song so sweet, Eileen Aroon,
Who in the dance so fleet, Eileen Aroon,
Dear are her charms to me, dearer her laughter free,
Dearest her constancy, Eileen Aroon.

Were she no longer true, Eileen Aroon,
What would her lover do, Eileen Aroon,
Fly with a broken chain, far o’er the sounding main,
Never to love again, Eileen Aroon.

Youth will in time decay, Eileen Aroon,
Beauty must fade away, Eileen Aroon,
Castles are sacked in war, chieftains are scattered far,
Truth is a fixed star, Eileen Aroon.

And from Mary Oliver’s collection Devotions:

White Heron Rises over Blackwater

I wonder
what it is
that I will accomplish

if anything
can be called
that marvelous word.
It won’t be

my kind of work,
which is only putting
words on a page,
the pencil

haltingly calling up
the light of the world,
yet nothing appearing on paper
half as bright

as the mockingbird’s
verbal hilarity
in the still unleafed shrub
in the churchyard—

or the white heron
over the swamp
and the darkness,

his yellow eyes
and broad wings wearing
the light of the world
in the light of the world—

ah yes, I see him.
He is exactly
the poem
I wanted to write.

At Blackwater Pond

At Blackwater Pond the tossed waters have settled
after a night of rain.
I dip my cupped hands. I drink
a long time. It tastes
like stone, leaves, fire. It falls cold
deep inside me, whispering
oh what is that beautiful thing
that just happened?

And one more show-n-tell:

a fat little book I’ve had for maybe 20 years by somebody who found favorites or at least smile-makers all over the place—

 14,000 Things to be Happy About, by Barbara Ann Kipfer,
and which I submit is an example of a book any of us can write, and should!

From Sue:

Favorites—notes & quotes-1-11-18
Favor (n) c. 1300, “attractiveness, beauty, charm” (archaic), from Old
French favor “a favor; approval, praise; applause; partiality” (13c.,
Modern French faveur), from Latin favorem -“good will, inclination,
partiality, support,” coined by Cicero -“to show kindness to,” from
PIE *ghow-e- “to honor, revere, worship” (Old Norse ga “to heed”).
Meaning “good will, kind regard” – mid-14c. in English; sense of “act
of kindness, a kindness done” -14c. Meaning “bias, partiality” -late
14c. Meaning “thing given as a mark of favor” -late 15c. Phrase in
favor of recorded from 1560s.

Quotes: “Fortune favors the prepared mind.” ~Louis Pasteur
“When the dog bites
When the bee stings
When I’m feeling sad
I simply remember my favorite things
And then I don’t feel so bad”
~Songwriters: Oscar Hammerstein / Richard Rodgers

Teachings on love by Thich Nhat Hanh
May I be peaceful, happy and light in body and spirit.
[May I be safe and free from injury.]
May I be free from anger, afflictions, fear and anxiety.

May I learn to look at myself with the eyes of understanding and love.
May I be able to recognise and touch the seeds of joy and happiness in myself.
May I learn how to identify and see [w/ eye of compassion] the sources
of anger, craving and delusion in myself.

May I know how to nourish the seeds of joy in myself every day.
May I be able to live fresh, solid and free.
May I be free from attachment and aversion, but not be indifferent.

My Thoughts:
the shadow side of “playing favorites”—Trump’s favoritism
dangers of playing favorites with your children from the Hebrew Bible
Cain-Abel, Ishmael-Isaac, Jacob-Esau, Joseph and his brothers

Krista Tippett—On Being interviews ( I meant to say On Being
Interviews are my favorite podcasts)
& 1 I haven’t heard:

We donated $80 to the House of Flowers.

For info and photos of the H of F children:


GNL number 125

a report of doings at meeting #125, Sunday, January 14, 2018
including liturgical items, major themes, and other odds and ends


Freedom begins the moment you realize someone else has been writing
your story and it’s time you took the pen from his hand and started
writing it yourself.
—–Bill Moyers

Oh, rebellious Woman,
to you the world looks
in Hope.
Upon you has fallen the glorious task of
Bringing liberty to the earth and all the inhabitants thereof.
—–19th c. Suffrage leader, Matilda Joslyn Gage


Sue again opened our conversation with fascinating research on word
origin, history, and meaning, for today’s topic, Power/Empowerment.
And she read many great quotes, two poems of hers, and a ‘power
brainstorm’. She introduced the idea of women’s empowerment so much in
the news and on our minds today, with the recent enormous wave of
sexual harassment/misconduct charges made by women. She also invited
us all to the Women’s March II being held next Saturday in Cobleskill
(and all over the US), passing flyers on it to post. See AFTERWORDS
for her notes and quotes.

Gail had been recalling how she’s learned to do tasks on the farm that
are hard and challenging that she would rather back off from, and how
persisting, doing them has been empowering. So she believes we can
move through adversity, and can learn, especially by trying new
things. (As a proponent of trying new ways, new ideas, new places, she
for years has inspired others, like us here at COS.)

Marge, also a great explorer of new things and places, again
demonstrated her sense of empowerment from continued visits to distant
locations, reporting on her and Don’s recent RoadScholar trip to
California’s Rose Parade (where they even helped make a float!). And
then she spoke of their experience first as students in the local
S.C.H.O.O.L. program, and later teaching in it., definitely a learning
experience both ways, and empowering.

Ann spoke of playing pickleball and over the years deepening her
understanding of the game, and fine-tuning the skills required for its
different aspects, which has felt empowering—–led to a stronger
sense of competence, confidence, and power.  And she also reported
something that surprised most of us: Since 1911 at least 27 countries
have been celebrating a holiday called the International Women’s Day;
the US not one of them.  See AW for her N and Q.

Nancy was very encouraged by the stunning wave of change happening now
on sexual harassment and power. And she’d just got a letter from
Donna, a friend of hers and COS, that so fit today’s topic that she
quoted a bit of it on the place of women in her native south. N was
also seeing the inspiring, empowering effects of other people on
herself—not just famous ones like MLK (Happy BD), but the many
other, unfamous—family and friends, like the present company, who’re
kind, spunky, brave, caring of the earth, and who’ve also given her
the gift of their listening, making her feel real!   See AW for her

Cynthia reported that Life and cold winter out in her front-porch
studio had forced her to take a vacation from her usual painting, and
push through that frustration to try new forms of making art. Like
finding natural things such as stones and adding features that
transform them. And she said learning to talk to herself, like ‘Yes, I
can’, and so to persist, had also been empowering. She spoke too of a
recent frustration trying to get an EDL driver’s license where she
managed to coolly find an alternative. And in addition, Cyn read some
of the reassuring report our friend Anna’s daughter Janay sent about
Anna’s condition.

We agreed to send our offering today to the FINCA program, which funds
women’s efforts in many countries to start businesses of their own.


Sunday, February 11, 2018 (1030) at Sue’s house on Quarry Street, Cobleskill.

The topic will be FAVORITES(books/movies/anything else).


Power concedes nothing without a demand.  It never did and it never will.
—–Frederick Douglass

…..Nevertheless, she persisted.
—–Senator Mitch McConnell, about Elizabeth Warren (amen and amen)


from Sue

Meaning “one who has power”-late 14c.; “specific ability or
capacity”-early 15c.; “a state or nation with regard to international
authority or influence” [OED] 1726; “a large number of” from 1660s;
“energy available for work” 1727; “electrical supply” 1896.


Indo-European root for power = poti-as in omnipotent, Padishah,
podesta, possess, possible, potent, power, prepotent.  Powerful; lord.
1. podesta, possess, power from Latin potis (> *pots > pos-), powerful, able.
2. possible, potent; impotent, omnipotent, prepotent from Latin
compound posse, to be able (contracted from potis, able + esse, to be;
see es-)
bashaw, Padishah, pasha from Old Persian pati-, master. Both a and b
from Indo-Iranian *pati-, lord.


“You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and
you will find strength.” Marcus Aurelius

“To live happily is an inward power of the soul.” ~Marcus Aurelius

“We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is
devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There
is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When
we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.” ~Martin
Luther King, Jr.

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s
character, give him power.” ~Abraham Lincoln

“There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness,
but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues.
They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and
of unspeakable love.” ~Washington Irving

“The power for creating a better future is contained in the present
moment: You create a good future by creating a good present.” Eckhart

“…one of the most dangerous stances in the world is thinking you are
a powerless victim when you actually have great power.  Even if you
are also vulnerable, as well as powerful, forgetting your power and
remembering only your weakness endangers your self and everyone else.”
~Rabbi Arthur Waskow,  “Amalek Today: To Remember, To Blot Out,”

“Law is not as disinterested as our concepts of law pretend; law
serves power; law in large measure is a recapitulation of the status
quo; it confirms a rigid order designed to insulate the beneficiaries
of the status quo from the disturbances of change.  The painful
truth—one with a long history—is that police are around in large part
to guarantee a peaceful digestion for the rich.”  William Sloane
Coffin, Credo, Westminster John Knox Press, 2004 p.35

“The failure of academic feminists to recognize difference as a
crucial strength is a failure to reach beyond the first patriarchal
lesson. In our world, divide and conquer must become define and
empower.” ~Audre Lorde

“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great
men are almost always bad men.” ~John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton,
first Baron Acton (1834–1902).

“Playing helps us to find our power, our humor, and our love.  We are
commanded to go out to play.” ~Rabbi  Shefa Gold, In the Fever of
Love: An Illumination of the Song of  Songs,  Ben Yehuda Pr. 2008. p.

“Speak softly and carry a big stick.” ~President Teddy Roosevelt
“Sisterhood is powerful.”  “Black Power.”

“Societies that empower women are less violent in every way.” Steven Pinker


Power Brainstorm–taking power, losing power, usurping power, power
within & power without, the powerful, the powerless, to be empowered,
to be disempowered, power outage, the invisible powers, woman power,
man power, black power, flower power,  power over, power up,
power-dead-even, signs of power, the power of words, the misuse of
power, exponential power, the powers that be


2 Poems:
POWER by Susan Fantl Spivack

like the egg that does not break
cracking it against the side of the pan,
and when you smash it finally
with a sledge hammer
the chick that has grown inside
is an armored knight,
and you cannot see its face.
The visor, black-ribbed,
reveals only yellow light
through the eye slits,
and the hen, when questioned,
denies everything;
the cock doesn’t know the meaning
of paternity.
The entire flock, tortured
and interred proves ignorant.
We murder every bird
in the county
though we’re sure something from outside
is getting to the hen.
We candle her eggs
and destroy the malformed,
the unnaturally heavy.  We breed
and crossbreed her
with her sons, nephews, imported
exotic roosters
interrogated in advance
by experts in poultry management.
We hang the rejects by their ankles
and stare into their golden crosshatched eyes
looking for a final abject confession,
any pippin of information,
before we finish them off.
We have not eaten a decent breakfast
for months.  We have stopped bathing.
The odor of feathers and gizzards defies
the scrubbrush.
Each day a covered dish is placed
on the glass table on the veranda.
The egg in its cup, translucent, pure,
is warm.
We crack it against the porcelin.
Out tumbles another small iron man.
Even x-rays have not altered this.
Our women have begun to bear murderers.



by Susan Fantl Spivack
If you were threatened with marriage to an old man
and then he swallowed you, swallowed
you and nourished you inside his belly
which made him young, which made him handsome
so when he coughed you up
and you saw him, love suddenly took you
out of yourself,

would you feel betrayed when he became
old again at the birth of your son?
Or would you say, Easy come, easy go,
even trade, I’ve learned a few things.
I’m asking you, would love endure?

And could your son,
more beautiful than any dream
of his immortal father,
restore to your old husband his exceptional youth
simply by cutting his beard?

Which is what happened, the Birom people say,
to old man Davolem and young maiden Yop
and their son, after Yop
climbed a byorop tree
and could not climb down by herself,
so old man Davolem to save her
and have her, swallowed her.

I’m asking, do you believe
in the power of impossible stories?
1991 Cobleskill

from Ann

International Women’s Day, which has existed for more than 100 years,
was the product of an era marked by rapid change and upheaval in the
industrialized world. As the planet’s population grew and the demand
for labor increased, and as new ideologies took shape, women were
thrust into a brave new world and confronted with a host of

The first day dedicated to women was established in 1911, and it was
observed for the first time in Austria, Denmark, Germany and
Switzerland on March 19, when more than 1 million people attended
rallies around the world to assert women’s right to work, vote, be
trained and hold public office. Two years later, the day was
officially changed to March 8, the date on which it’s been celebrated
globally ever since as International Women’s Day.

Today, International Women’s Day is recognized by the UN and is an
official holiday in 27 countries. On this day each year, men are asked
to honor their mothers, wives, girlfriends and colleagues — similar
to Mother’s Day, when boys and men celebrate and give gifts to their
mothers and grandmothers.

“Nobody can make you feel inferior without your permission.” —
Eleanor Roosevelt

“I believe that it is as much a right and duty for women to do
something with their lives as for men and we are not going to be
satisfied with such frivolous parts as you give us.” — Louisa May

“The fastest way to change society is to mobilize the women of the
world.” — Charles Malik  – Charles Habib Malik was a Lebanese
academic, diplomat, and philosopher. He served as the Lebanese
representative to the United Nations, the President of the Commission
on Human Rights and the United Nations General Assembly, a member of
the Lebanese Cabinet, a national minister of Education and the Arts,
and …

“Men and boys, we show our manhood through the way we treat our women.
Our wives, our sisters, our mothers.” — Archbishop Desmond Tutu

“Being a woman is a terribly difficult task, since it consists
principally in dealing with men.” — Joseph Conrad

“Can you imagine a world without men? No crime and lots of happy, fat
women.” — Nicole Hollander

“By and large, mothers and housewives are the only workers who do not
have regular time off. They are the great vacation-less class.” —
Anne Morrow Lindberg

“The reason women don’t play football is because 11 of them would
never wear the same outfit in public.” — Phyllis Diller

from Nancy

a few discoveries on the road of life, with much help from others:

that we can do hard things in spite of fear.
that we’ll all have adversities—part of the deal—but so is change.
that we can learn from it all, trying new ways.

And a suggestion:

Please, if you haven’t already, check TIME magazine’s December 18,
2017 issue, with the Person of the Year cover and article on The
Silence-Breakers, on sexual harassment and misconduct—the Voices
that launched a movement—so many, here representing thousands of
silence-breakers in 2017.


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