Here is a summary of the recent Section for Literary Arts & Humanities meeting of the local group in Fair Oaks, CA. This meeting occurred on October 31, 2020 via Zoom.
Last night’s meeting was a big one! And very lively! We hosted our first participatory Zoom salon in celebration of the 225th birthday of John Keats. We wore funny hats, said funny things, made funny faces, and had some serious fun in lively play of poetry and literary conversation.
If you’ve been following the local group in Fair Oaks, you know that salons and artistic presentations are an important part of how we meet and work. The Covid crisis put a damper on our in-person New Moon Salons, but we are learning to adapt by use of imagination. Last night we all wore costumes, recited poetry to one another, told riddles, watched videos, and listened to a voice from the Beyond — T.S. Eliot, in this instance, who recited “The Hollow Men” to the group in his magisterial way. Welcome to Fair Oaks, T.S. — you arrived with Dan for the evening’s festivities. Any more Americans lurking out there? I see quite a few Brits and Germans in the ballroom — and is that Kerouac at the bar flirting with Sylvia? — but otherwise nigh a Yankee in the lot. But the night is young and welcoming — though I do sense a touch of autumn in the air — “season of mist and mellow fruitfulness” and all that jazz.
And so, Autumn
A time for gathering in, reflection, taking stock, meditation, and laying aside seed thoughts for the future. In that mood, I took a moment at the beginning of the evening to review the past year. It’s just a year ago on November 1, 2019 that a letter went out by post and email from the Section collegium to all the North American members of the Section for Literary Arts and Humanities of the School for Spiritual Science. The letter explained some big changes that occurred in 2019. It detailed changes in the Section collegium, and it laid out plans for the coming months through the end of 2020. Little did the collegium know that 2020 was to be a year of Altered Expectations. (We need a Dickens to write the book!) The November 2019 letter pointed to the month of September 2020 when the collegium expected to host Dr. Christiane Haid at several events in Canada and California — at which time matters of organization were to be discussed. (The letter went out by post and email to all North American Section members on the mailing list current at the time. So if you didn’t receive it or don’t remember receiving it and if you are a Section member and want another copy, please contact the Section collegium. You can easily do that by emailing me, since I’m the one who mailed and emailed the letter on behalf of the Section collegium.)
But of course, as they say, “the best laid plans . . . “
The year 2020 not only shut down travel and personal meeting events, it forced and inspired us to think differently about how we meet and work and what we do. Opinions vary, but I think at this point common sense might whisper that 2021 will pose similar challenges.
In response to global events, the local group in Fair Oaks switched to Zoom, and if you are reading these meeting summaries, you know we’ve been meeting a lot. Gosh, a whole lot more than I ever expected or intended. In spring, we took up the magical idealist poet Novalis — thinking that things would return to “normal” by June 2020. Nope. Silly us!
So, What Next?
Here are the pranks and poems capered by meeting participants last night at the celebratory salon and birthday celebration for John Keats:
- A Minute’s Worth of Riddles for Halloween. (Q: “Why do writers like to hang out at graveyards? A: Because there are so many plots!” Ouch.)
- “To Mrs. Reynold’s Cat”
- “To Autumn”
- The Witches Scene from Macbeth, with group chorus (“Double double, toil and trouble; fire burn and cauldron bubble.”)
- Introduction to “The Hollow Men,” with reference to Guy Fawkes, big bangs and whimpers
- “The Hollow Men,” recited by T.S. Eliot. Video link
- “La Belle Dame Sans Merci” Video link
- “Bright Star”
As noted, serious banter and merrymaking shared by all. In the midst of this sensitive chaos, an idea arose for a Reader’s Theater. Huh?? Aw heck, why not! We sure got the talent! And the heart! Let’s see what sort of inspiration ripens toward Advent and as we rest over the Holy Nights and then begin slowly the year 2021. Until then, our weekly meeting rhythm continues until Advent, in the good company of Hermann Hesse and Friedrich von Hardenberg, genannt Novalis.
Uh oh! Here’s a Trick or Treat: our next meeting breaks stride! Just to keep us tipsy pranksters on our toes: we’ll meet on Zoom Friday, November 6 — not on Saturday. Meetings will then resume their Saturday weekly rhythm until Advent, unless otherwise noted. Watch this space.
A Website for the local group in Fair Oaks
As promised and announced repeatedly in meeting summaries for the past few months, the website is done. Last night I “unveiled” it — to use the word highlighted by Gayle and Novalis at our meeting last week. This is a website for friends and members of the Section for Literary Arts & Humanities who participate in the local Section meetings in Fair Oaks.
I’ve said quite a bit about this website in past meeting summaries, and the website kind of speaks for itself, maybe. “Long story short,” as we like to say in the editorial trade: it is a website for the local group in Fair Oaks — a place where the local group can keep track of what we do and what we’ve done. Our hope is that other local groups will share their work — and that from this sharing, we all might feel inspired. But, who knows? The website is a local response to a global situation, but it also is a place to storehouse materials from the meetings we’ve held over the past years in Fair Oaks.
“All goes onward and outward, nothing collapses . . .”
Might I share a final photo? Here is the Marriott Hotel at the intersection of Sunrise and Highway 50 — fondly recalled by Fair Oaks meeting stalwarts as the first meeting site of the local group when we started our meetings ten years ago. We met here for many years, right at the top. Many voices were heard in those meetings. I hear them still.
“In a work of art, chaos must shimmer through the veil of order.”