When I’ve been invited to give a talk, teach a class, or facilitate a workshop or retreat, a powerful inner, creative, spiritual process is often set in motion. In many cases, the process surely begins long before the invitation arrives or the leading is discerned. I know from reading accounts by Friends in other times as well as from conversations with contemporaries that the spiritual process that brings forward a message or teaching from the Spirit has similar elements for many of us. It comes from beyond, takes form within, and finds expression through words, yes, but also much more.
A leading or invitation often compels my attention in a way that causes other things to drop to the background, at least when I’m not busy procrastinating out of fear of public speaking. During the months or weeks leading up to the event, I notice images and dreams that come, as well as outward events and information that seem to resonate with special meaning. Certain scripture passages or quotes, from early Friends or others, come with a kind of intensity. I listen for themes, for important ideas and questions, and for the stories I need to tell.
My tendency is to be shy and introverted. Afraid of being boring, I hate telling the same story to the same person twice. My preference is to receive the elements of a message, teaching, or class, and let them silently become organized within me, often with notes I write in my journal. I’ve learned not to write down a message, but only to make notes (often in the form of a slide or handout) and to trust that a fresh sharing of whatever I say will have more life for the listeners than something drafted in advance and read aloud. (Wanting to be a perfect speaker, I’ve tried reading my talks in the past, and discovered, to my disappointment, that they aren’t as engaging that way.) Without a script in my hand, I’m vulnerable to the possibility of forgetting what I have to say or not finding the right words. However, I’m also a lot more open to the fresh inspiration of the Spirit and able to spontaneously share more of the Life that often flows into and through me on such occasions.
In advance, elders or spiritual companions can be a big help in the process of drawing forth the teaching, ministry, or plan for the event. Before my recent Pendle Hill lecture entitled “Healing the Disconnect” I felt it was essential that I practice telling my stories to others in advance, even at the risk of boring them and embarrassing myself. Four people generously gave of their time for weeks in advance to hear the stories, ideas, concerns, questions, doubts, hesitations, and inspirations that I shared. Their interest drew forth more than I know and helped me find clarity about what Spirit was actually wanting to focus on. Some of their feedback shaped parts of the eventual talk.
A major integration of many elements of my life took place, including spiritual experiences and theology, all of it brought into focus by the pressing issue of how to respond to the realities of the climate crisis, and how to heal the inner and outer disconnects that leave humanity currently so feeble in curbing our destructive behavior. More came to me than could possibly fit into an evening talk, especially a talk that included a guided meditation and sharing in small groups. At the end of the evening, the questions asked by those present drew forth more.
The ways we engage with each other in bringing forward God’s teaching and ministry are essential: the questions we ask, the attention we give, the feedback that mirrors, encourages and helps us go deeper. As we enter this mutual process, we enter into divine love. It’s part of healing the disconnect that exists in all of us. I’m deeply grateful to those who helped me prepare for that talk.
Into the wee hours of the night after I gave the talk, I thought of many, many things I could have said that would have made my points and my answers to questions more complete. But, nonetheless, I had a peaceful sense that I had been faithful. I knew that what had been integrated inside me, in advance, was part of a larger integration and healing that is happening on a collective level and that it’s far larger than one evening’s consideration. It’s a work for all of us to do, and we all need help doing it.
The morning after the talk, my heart immediately went to those who had signed up, or would sign up, for the upcoming Pendle Hill online workshop/retreat I will be facilitating soon, in which I will have the opportunity to help others with the same work of deep inward listening, receptivity, integration, discernment, and expression.
That workshop starts in two days and there’s still room to join! Below is a link to the recording of the May 3rd talk, and also a link to register for the weekend, “Going Deeper Together.”
Healing the Disconnect: A Pendle Hill online evening with Marcelle Martin, May 3, 2021
(The link to the recording is below the description of the talk.)
The root of all of our social and planetary problems lies in our disconnection from our true nature, from the Earth, and from our divine source. We must learn to operate more from the heart and to become more sensitive to the divine Presence that wants to guide us toward re-connection and healing on every level. Each one of us has amazing capacities to help others become more whole and help move society toward a hopeful future. We all have a contribution to make to the healing that is so needed now. In this talk, using stories and short experiential practices, Marcelle Martin will share from her experiences about how we can help each other heal the disconnect that lies at the root of all our challenges. Link to view recording: https://youtu.be/tIa60epzxgo?t=197
© 2021 Marcelle Martin
A Guide to Faithfulness Groups explains what faithfulness is and how it can be cultivated by small groups that practice ways to listen inwardly together for divine guidance, a practice that holds great potential for supporting individuals of any faith in allowing the work of the Spirit to become manifest through them and their communities.
Our Life is Love: The Quaker Spiritual Journey describes the transformational spiritual journey of the first Quakers, who were inwardly guided by God to work and witness for radical changes in their society. Focusing on ten elements of the spiritual journey, this book is a guide to a Spirit-filled life, designed to be a resource for both individuals and groups to explore their spiritual experiences. It describes the journey of faithfulness that leads people to actively engage in God’s work of making this world a better place for all. Our Life is Love has been reviewed by Marty Grundy in Friends Journal, by Carole Spencer in Quaker Religious Thought, and by Stuart Masters on A Quaker Stew.
Both books are available from Inner Light Books in hardback, paperback, and ebook. (An excerpt and a study guide are also available on that website for Our Life is Love: the Quaker Spiritual Journey.)