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t h e Brea.kirl.g
for the Chip Lyeth Paper Group
b y Marvin Bowers
June, 2001



There is a prayer in the Book of Common Prayer that is intended for use
before the Holy Eucharist. The prayer says, "Be present, be present, Lord
Jesus, our great high priest, as you were present with your disciples, and make
you self known to us in the Word and in the breaking of the Bread".
It is my
deeply held conviction, a conviction I share with countless other Christians in
our own time and for the past two millennia, that the crucified and risen Lord
Jesus is present with his brothers and sisters in the Word and in the Breaking
of the Bread, and that his presenc e can only be described as "real". Belief in
the doctrine of the real presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist has a corollary
that is experienced regularly by people of other faiths of a no particular faith .
It is a corollary that is experienced regularly on the first Friday evening of the
month, when we gather as the Chip Lyeth Paper Group . The corollary might be
called the doctrine companionship. A companion is one with whom you share or
break bread. Something happens , or at least may happen, when people talk and
listen and eat and drink with each other intentionally and repeatedly. A kind
of real presence takes place. People are not merely in the same room with each
other, not merely occupying the same physical space. Rather they are really
present, they come to occupy the same emotional, spiritual, mental space. In
such moments, such people create awareness, which becomes memory, which
becomes story. This real presence, this vivid awareness, this living memory and
vivid story , mark the difference between mere existence and life with meaning.
Meaning. There have been times when many people really feared damnation.
In an interesting way, damnation is only a possibility in a universe filled with
meaning , a universe in which right and wrong belief, behavior and relationships,
are objectively real and have equally objective consequences. A universe in
which damnation is possible (but not necessary) is in its own way a comforting
place. Some people still fear damnation, but it is my impression, both as a
reader of books and listener to peoples' stories, that what more of us fear is
that life may be utterly meaningless. In a world in which many people, especially
thoughtful well educat ed people, suspect that there may well be no ultimate
meaning to life, to have moments in which we at least feel r eally present with
companions, and that such real presence means something, is no small blessing.
As I said above , the Chip L yeth Paper Group, has provided such moments and
is, therefore, no small blessing. A couple of months ago at Ridgely Evers house
there was some discussion about the origins and ordinances of the CLPG . There
is a fine line bet ween history and myth, and I myself and prone to make up
history on the spur of the moment, and fill it with "facts" that fit into my
present view of how things ought to be. Also, I don't have that good a memory
for dates and details like who was actually there. So, I asked Bob Scav ullo the
co-founder of the group , and Dave Anderson, an original member, if they could
remember when we started meeting and who attended the early meeting s .

origins of the Chip Lyeth Paper Group


origins of the Chip Lyeth Paper Group

Fri, 18 May 2001 16:36:57 -0700
Bob Scavullo Texar <>
Marvin Bowers <>

Marvin ,
some rambling thoughts
In Spring, 1981 Chuck Hobson invited me and Mike McCone to join him at
the Bohemian Club for the monthly meeting of "The Paper Group". Big
deal , has met continuously since 1932, coat & tie, private dining
room, oak panels, all papers archived in UC Berkeley Bancroft Library.
Modeled after the long Saturday lunches Louis Aggaziz, Harvard used to
hold with colleagues and friends .
Paper the month before was " Roald Amundsun , First to the Pole?"
Paper this month was given by Chuck ' s friend and contemporary Bruce ? ,
a hot shot workaholic lawyer. Subject was "What my life has been like
12 months after my divorce. "
The old boys did not like this

too touchy feely.

Turns out Chuck and Bruce had a not to secret agenda - get some
younger fellows who are willing to discuss personal issues into the
At the following mon th' s meeting the group rejected Chuck's and
Bruce ' s idea. Chuck and Bruce resigned and formed the New Paper
Immediately we were a mixed group - but all about the same age
mid 30 ' s . Most different was Michel Delatour , Berkeley policeman.
During a round table question, what do you like most about your job,
Michel responded " Kicking down doors. "
I gave the first paper title was "Electronic Music " based on my
interview with John Chowning, Stanford computer music faculty and
inventor of the Yamaha electronic keyboard - made him rich .
Next few papers in a similar objective vein .
Then Ray Sebastian , a founding member, gave his paper on his
experience as a parent of a 16 year old boy whose hormones were acting
up. Ray's paper gave us "permission" to talk about ourselves.
Thereafter , more and more of the papers had a personal content to
I believe you joined us in 88 or 89 . I remember a corc::e:<t- you made to
me after dinner at Doug Grigg ' s house "This is a very spiritual
gathering" .
About that time, Chuck arranged a reconciliation with "The Paper
Group ". His good friend and member of the group Mac McGregor - a
mining engineer with a big heart and open personality, came to a
meeting at Chuck's house, was impressed by the open way we talked
about our feelings and offered to deposit our papers in "The Paper
Group ' s " Bancroft Library archive .
You and I decided that we should start a group in Healdsburg . I'm
guessing 1989 or 1990 . I think I gave the first paper some time
during the winter holidays.
I know that my father-in-law Henry Elden
was present .
I seem to remember sitting in your living room reading

I of3

5 29t0 I I0:05 AM

origins of the Chip Lyeth Paper Group

the paper and looking at Henry for approbation.

I reread a paper I
had prepared for the SF Paper group on my experiences with depression
which were behind me by 1989. You remember the first meeting at Chip
Lyeth's. Maybe Dave Anderson knows.


I know I wanted to have a forum where we could discuss our feelings

and personal experiences. Just like the City group , it took about a
year for all of us to become comfortable with the format and with each
other to have this sort of sharing.
It's been a hallmark of the group
ever since. Deo Gratias!
I certainly remember being at Chip's house twice - must have been two
separate years as the rota took a year to come round again.
As for early members.
You , I, Dave Anderson, Gersh, Bob Hopkins, ??
your Jewish psychiatrist friend,, J im Theile, Paul Bernier, Robert
Nicholson, Elmer Venter, the commercial illustrator who lived on Chalk
Hill. His wife had recently died. Next day after a meeting at his
house you and I purchased many cases of Sauvignon Blanc at $18 I case
from his neighbor.
I thought it was fine.
Barbara relegated it to
the Sangria mix.
Rules? Not many. Men only. One person, provides food, another
prepares a paper. Types it us and hands it around. No bad mouthing
the food or the paper.
By 1993, the San Francisco group was defunct.
I remember the final
meeting at Chuck Hobson's house. The spark was gone.
The Chip Lyeth Paper group continues the tradition - has improved upon
the tradition. "Ad multos annos."
I am attaching some the papers that I gave.
still in my computer.

They are conveniently

" 0 Death, where is thy sting? " date October 1991

Start 's off with, "So , it went like this. Marvin called me two
weeks ago and asked if I could give the paper." It refers to a
meeting of the SF Group 2 weeks before.
"Be Prepared"

october 1992

" I am .. . . (in three words or less)"

December 1994

"Life, Liberty , and the Pursuit of Happiness." December 1995

The Remembrance of Things Past

December 1998

Can't seem to find anything since then.

another paper.

Must be time for me t o do


2 of3

5,29'0 1 10:05 AM

- Paper Group

Subject: Paper Group

Date: Wed, 23 May 2001 22:09:27-0700
From: David Anderson <>
To: Marvin Bowers <>


Chip Lyeth Paper Group

(note the correct spelling ofLyeth)
My recollections of the first Paper Group were ofMarvin and Bob trying to explain, as they invited me,
what the whole idea was about A bunch of guys getting together for a dinner prepared by one of the
men (gasp) and listening to a paper written by one of the men (double gasp)- What a concept, I thought
to myself1 Bad food and bad writing!
But I went anyway and have been a fairly regular attendee ever since_ I recall a nice dinner at Bob's
house and a nice paper by Chip, something about his travels or business or something like that Those
attending that I recall for sure were Bob Scavullo, Chip Lyeth, Marvin Bowers, Jim Theile, Robert
Nicholson, and myself Bob Hopkins may have been there, but I remember sitting around a table with no
more than 6 or 7 guys. I think the date was late 1985 or 1986, as Bob Scavullo, always the interested
friend, asked me about my sabbatical in Michigan, which had ended in the fall of 1985 _
Some of my fondest memories include the varieties ofthings we have done, including seeing, George
Carlin at Luther Burbank, to flyfishing on my dock, to enjoying takeout Chinese food at Marvin's 'cause
he couldn't cook (You are a man after my own heart Marvin!). Many touching moments also, including
Doug Vadnais writing about his father, Bob Hopkins' paper about the death of his father, Gersh
Thompson's frequent tears as he recites literature that has touched him, and the fact that this group has
allowed me to open my own sores a bit and relate some personal losses.
And I particularly want to mention two writers that I greatly admire; I won't name them but they are
both bright accomplished men who have trouble reading, probably what we would now call dyslexia.
This group has allowed and encouraged them to express themselves very fluently. That is just an
example of what this group can do for each other.
The Chip Lyeth Paper Group is a great group! Thank you Marvin and Bob.
Dave Anderson

I of I

5t2410 I 9:54AM

That's more or less what I remember, too.

I also remember being deeply
moved, moved indeed to tears, by various papers and comments after papers.
I also remember getting mad and being gotten mad at. On a memorable evening
on which we were drinking a concoction of Guinness Stout and champagne at
Robert Nicholson's house, I was denounced in no uncertain terms as a effing Nazi.
In addition to the meetings themselves and the real presence and companionship
that emerges out of our words and the breaking of our bread, members of this
group have been of great comfort and support to me, especially during some
difficult times in my personal or family life. I want, now , to say thank you to
you as individuals and as a group for your generosity and love to my family at
this time when my grandson Alaric is dying.
A word about Chip Lyeth, who was an original member of the group, and who,
Chip returned to Church after attending an Easter
Vigil at which a friend of his was baptized.
Not long after he returned to
Church he also started going to AA. I liked Chip when he was drinking and had
no idea he was an alcoholic. A liked him even better when he was stopped
drinking. A tender and humorous side of his character came out that I had
never seen before, especially with his then young children. Chip died about an
hour after he had participated in the Holy Eucharist with his family and many
members of St Paul's who had gathered at his vineyard for a parish pichic. He
crashed his plane while doing aerial acrobatics. The plane hit the ground about
a hundred yards from where we were all standing, watching him. I was standing
beside his teenaged son Cam. I heard Cam say, "Pull up, Dad, you're too low."
The plane clipped a tree top , struck the ground and immediately burst into flame.
It's the worst thing I've ever seen. A couple of hours later most every one was
gone . The coroner's deputy was placing the charred remains of Chip's body in
the van. I was standing at the open door of the van saying the prayers. A
deputy sheriff came over to me. He made the sign of the cross and stood there
next to me like an altar boy. After the prayers, as the van was driving away,
he said, "How are you, Father?" "Horrible, just horrible" , was all I could say.
He gave me a hug, a hug I needed very much . It was Dave Anderson's idea to
start calling ourselves the Chip Lyeth Paper group.
I think, gave the first paper.

I have written poems off and on since I was in high school. One possible
definition of a poem is words written on a page that don't fill it up from margin
to margin like prose. I have written several hymns that scan and rhyme , but
most of my poems are free verse. Mostly, I c ould n't explain t o myself, much less
anyone else, why I end a line and start a new one, e n d a stanza a nd start a new
one. I do think a poem is mostly truly itself when it is read alou d , particularly
when it is read aloud to companions.

The first poem I wrote that made a difference to me is called "Rescue #6366R"
The title of the poem was the title of the entry in the log of the UC Santa
Barbara Fire Department were is lived and served as a student fire fighter
during the senior year. The first stanza, printed in caps, was the lead to the
brief article in the Santa Barbara newspaper that reported this incident. The
terse, three lead suggested the form of the poem.
She had a great falling
Landing broken in water
Dark and inconvenient
So she died on the beach
In life a place of warmth
Making doubtful and old dualism
Not that I loved her
or even know her
It was a chance encounter
I held her in my hands
(broken, ugly and cold)
Not in love, but labor
I labored, still she died
In an instant falling
From lover's hands to mine

This is a hymn I wrote while I was in seminary. Another seminarian, Bob

McCloskey, who was a musician, wrote a tune for it, and it was often sung as the
offertory hymn during the Holy Eucharist. The offertory is when the priest
plac es the bread and wine on the altar before it is c onsec rated t o become the
Body and Blood of Christ. At that point in the liturgy the bread and wine
represent the offering of ourselves to Christ. I dedicated the hymn to another
seminarian, Ted Copland, who has remained a friend these many years. He and
his wife Judy are the Godparents of our children. as are Bonnie and I the
Godparents of their children. In a way its a poem about the Word and the
Breaking of the Bread.
The part of me I've found in Christ
I offer on the altar now ,
And for the part of me that's lost
In my dark heart, I make this vow:
I'll place it on the common board ,
This bitter bread and galling cup ,
And pray that Christ the Faithful with
My brother's in Christ will lift it up.
And with this vow and prayer I make
A promise to all Christian men
That I will drink the cup thy bring ,
Their joy and sorrow , love and sin.
0 God, do not remove this cup
That's poured in weakness, drun k in powe r.
Still let the love and strength of Christ
Transform us at this holy hour.

I wrote the following lines when I was angry about pretty every things. I'm
not sure I would even call them a poem. Ted Copland, mentioned above, wrote
the last lines as a response to my bitterness and anger. They were very healing
words for me at the time.
in the Chapel of the Good Shepherd,
General Seminary, New York
Is not our bitterness our and only our?
If I could share, I would, but share is not
The proper word. For I would burden you,
Would conquer you beneath the blackest me.
The one I pray with feeble prayer is God.
The one I feel, the one that churns with power,
That's vast and yearns to be released on you
And God, that one is only me.
If I could tear this building down I would,
And my black power would loom above your head
My brother and my Lord. So live with this,
And pray and know your enemy when you pray.


I will and do embrace you bitterness.

And I embrace you and we pray as one.
And so our enemy conquers both of us,
And we become his brothers--even now.

Compline is the final service of the Daily Office or daily round of prayers.
This poem was written on a warm, New York summer evening when Bonnie and
I were so young.
And the warm bed
And the cool air
And she is mine
And I love her
And the Warm Heart
And the Strong Cross
And I love Him
My tongue cleaveth
My pen straineth
For some love song
With her beside
I pray to Christ
In ancient Prayer
and I say yes
A few more poems.


E pluribus unum,
noble myths on money,
a penny for your thoughts .
Funny how one wants it
to be true, would borrow,
beg, or steal to have it,
to have children be as
one would stamp them, have them
bear one's image, be the
coin one spends to purchase
But they will not
(thank God) sit still for it,
not for all the bribes or
bartering one might do.
They want to purchase their own
noble myths, and they will,
and they will pay dearly,
as will we who love them.
Who makes these transactions?
Who prints the currency ,
counts the cost; who can guess
the sum when everything
we do ; our gifts , our trades,
our cheating and our debts
are added up at laat?
A penny for your thoughts.
Sometimes I feel like a child gazing up,
speechless , about to cry, because it c osts
more th~~ I thought, and I don ' t ha ve enough
to pay .
--?<13 , 12 - 83

Between sleep and sleep,
the half heard, predictable noise:
~ur car, engine off, door shut,
boots on gravel, the back door,
muted voices as he finds her
there in the kitchen light,
OK, fine, glad to be home.
Then, not washed yet,
still smelling of the shop,
the circuit of our beds:
the moment of light, the smell,
his hard hand on our heads,
Tykie Bug, Billy Bo, Pinky Binks,
nicknames, friendly, sacred,
half heard, night after night,
between sleep and sleep.
Between sleep and sleep
they stir. Just me. God bless you.
I make the rounds. Now it is I
who need to touch, I
who need to say their names.
Do they hear me coming,
do they wait as I did,
night after night,
for the name and the light,
between sleep and sleep?
MB, December






F R 0 N

T n E

Mad eleine, Cla r e , Marvin, Sa r a h, Bonnie, Ar th ur, Ma ry


for Bonnie
I stand on the church steps
where I have stood waiting
for hundreds of brides
and their mothers:
The knowing parson,
nudging everyone along,
assuring everyone that
it will be just right,
urging them to come along now
because we're just about ready
to begin. It will be
just like we practiced last night.
Today the mother of the bride
is you. I see you, the only one
I've ever really loved,
walking toward me surrounded
by our children as you lead them
one block from our house
to our church. It's Maddy's wedding
and I'm the dad in the rented tux.

are leading the children toward me.

nearer you come
happier I am.
coming back to me now .

MB , 199"6


Our house on Brown Street,
The Napa Methodist Church,
John L. Shearer School,
And Fuller Park, these locate
And frame my childhood

In the park, slides, swings

(big and little), merry-go-rounds,
All of gray pipe, bolts, brackets, chains.
The big swings tempted you
To leap and fly over the flag pole.
When I was seven or eight,
The curly slide came. For weeks
The old slides seemed so straight,
The swings so limp, even the
Merry-go-rounds no fun.
We not only slid down

On our bums, but on

Our backs, our tummies head first- In snakes of two, three, and four.
It made Fuller Park wild and new
We, or at least I, feel
So grov.n up. Bonnie
Is si-cteen and I am nineteen,
On a warm, full moon
Summer night in Fuller Park.
We ride the merry-go-round
And talk about how it was
When we were little and how
Everything is so different now,
How small the playground seems.,
Except for the big swings.
We swing at first low and slow,
Then as it becomes time to go,
I S\\ing high. At arc's end
the chains go slack,

A moment between soaring

And falling. I want her to think
I am wonderful, brave and wise,
I want to swing so high that she
Cannot help but love me.
After the Eucharist at St Paul's
We drive to Napa. Mom's name
And birth date have been
On the grave marker with Dad's
For eleven years.
Now we lower her ashes
Into a small grave above Dad's coffin
And there it is: the date
Of her death. She
Has waited for this.
We know that they are happy.
We, kids, grandkids, ireat grandkids
Go to Fuller Park where we
Are happy for them
And for ourselves.

I S>ving on the big swings,

Slowly at first, then so high
The chains go slack at arc's end

I think of Mom and Dad soaring

High above the flag pole.


T S Elliot described the writing of poetry as raids on the inarticulate with

equipment always deteriorating. An apt description, I think, of not only writing
poetry but of preaching and teaching, of psychological and pastoral counseling,
of all sorts of talk between family, friends , and enemies. An apt description, I
think, of what we do as the Chip Lyeth Paper Group.
We are raiding the
inarticulate and our equipment, our words, are always falling apart, or falling on
deaf ears, or, eliciting something like the response Prufrock's interlocutor in the
Elliot's "The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock": no, that is not what I mean at
all, that is not what I meant at all. And yet, I say that the writing of words,
and more especially the speaking of words, and most especially the speaking of
words to companions with the breaking of bread is the most noble, most humane
and most humanizing of our ways. So, having broken bread, let us talk a bit