Revolutionary Love

I recently read a moving, powerful book that combines the personal, spiritual, and political, to show how, in the life of author Valarie Kaur, they are one.

Kaur was raised in a faith that taught her to “see no stranger,” that is, to recognize and treat each person as part of oneself. She grew up in rural California, part of the third generation in her family to be a U.S. citizen. Yet from early childhood onward, she experienced painful discrimination against her dark skin, female body, and Sikh religion.

As a student at Stanford University she received a grant to record stories of survivors of the massacres that took place during the 1947 Great Partition that separated India and Pakistan. Before she could fly to India for her research, however, the terrorist destruction of the World Trade Center towers took place in New York City on September 11, 2001. Almost immediately, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, Arab, and South Asian Americans became victims of hate crimes by white Americans in the United States. On September 15, domestic terrorism affected Kaur in a deeply personal way when a dear family friend she called Uncle Balbir was shot outside the gas station he owned in Mesa, Arizona, while he was planting flowers.

Kaur changed her research project. She and a cousin with a video camera got in a car and traveled all over the country for months to visit communities where hate crimes had taken place. She interviewed the families, and with the video camera documented what had happened. She also grieved with each community.

She was back at Stanford while the United States prepared for war against Iraq, a war that the government justified using false claims. After months of futile anti-war activism, she participated with other Stanford students in a non-violent direct action on the streets of San Francisco on the morning the United States began raining down bombs on Baghdad. The action was designed to stop morning traffic, “to shut down business as usual” and protest the war. The night before the action, Kaur shifted her name from the group not willing to be arrested to the group willing to risk arrest, if necessary. She wrote, “I wanted to give everything I had to this moment, to give my all to the fight.” She was not prepared, however, when the police came to arrest the line of students blocking traffic and she ended up being the one with the microphone, the person who needed to explain both to the police and to the frustrated commuters the reason for the protest. In that moment Valerie Kaur found her public voice, and something amazing happened. Later she became a Yale-educated civil rights lawyer who worked with her filmmaker husband to let the world know about ongoing attacks against religious and ethnic groups in the United States and to tell the stories of those affected by hate crimes.  In her 2018 TED talk she says, “stories can create the wonder that turns strangers into sisters and brothers.” Indeed, her moving stories taught me to respect and appreciate fellow citizens whose lives I had not understood before.

See No Stranger moves back and forward in Kaur’s life, weaving very personal strands with the stories of her religious faith, of communities affected by hate crimes, and of recent social and political events. She tells about confronting sexual and sexist abuse in her own life and family, and shares intimate accounts of finding the love of her life, addressing health problems, and giving birth to her children. She shows how the personal, spiritual, social, and political are all part of a single tapestry, and reveals how addressing the problems in our world requires attention in all areas of life, as well as respect for all persons. Drawing from her religion, her personal experience, and recent events, she suggests that the only way forward is revolutionary love; love for ourselves, others, and our opponents. 

What does revolutionary love look when dealing with people who have perpetrated abuse and violence against oneself, one’s family, or one’s community?  Kaur shows us what love requires and the steps in the process of reconciliation.  She learned that battling bad systems is more effective in creating change than battling bad people, and that bad people have wounds that need, in one way or another, to be tended. Her story is a compelling illustration of what revolutionary love looks like and how to live it.

Valarie Kaur’s See No Stranger: A Memoir and Manifesto of Revolutionary Love (One World: 2020, Hardcover, 416 pages) is available at half price from QuakerBooks at https://quakerbooks.org/products/see-no-stranger. ISBN: 9780525509097, 

Valerie Kaur’s TED talk: 3 lessons of revolutionary love in a time of rage

© 2020 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.)

Posted in All of Life is Sacred, Facing Life with Faith, Stories that Heal, Working for Peace and Justice | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Stay With Me

On the night of this year’s Presidential election, I joined three different online vigils with Friends. Four years ago, I had spent many difficult hours alone on election night before the results were clear. This time around, there were again uncertain and disconcerting early results, but because I joined other Friends in prayer and worship, I was much more aware of the presence of God– among us, in the nation, and in the world.

In the days leading up the 2016 election, the polls had predicted a victory for the Democratic candidate, for whom my husband and I had been canvassing door to door. But the polls turned out to be wrong. By the time my husband went to bed that night, the results were making us uneasy. For the next several hours I sat alone on the sofa, my attention on the televised political commentators, switching channels to hear different interpretations of the election results that were coming in. By midnight the news was worse than alarming. The televised faces of the election workers at Hilary Clinton’s headquarters looked stunned and sad.

Wanting the company of my friends, I went to the computer to see what they were saying on Facebook. It was a little comforting to read messages from a few of them and know I was not alone at that hour. By two am, however, none of my friends were posting any more messages. Nonetheless, I could not go to bed until the outcome was clear. I waited another cold, lonely hour.

Then, from across the ocean, came an email from a Quaker friend, Rachel, in Scotland. Morning had already broken in her country. She was surprised by the news and reached out by email, wondering what was happening in my country. We sent emails back and forth, and I no longer felt alone with that night’s shocking news.

This year at our house, in the days running up to the 2020 election, my husband and I both had one or more difficult—or even heated—phone and Zoom conversations with family members who were voting a different way from us, due to their particular religious beliefs or different ideas of what is good for the country. Fortunately, love under-girded those conversations.

We had known that the early election results in 2020 would significantly favor the incumbent since members of his party had been encouraged to vote in person, while the majority of Democrats had chosen to vote through mail-in ballots because of the ongoing pandemic. The Republican-controlled state legislature in our state, Pennsylvania, had refused to allow early counting of the millions of mail-in ballots that had already been received. So we knew that the first election results would skew Republican. Even so, we were surprised by the margin. This was true in lots of other states, too.

On election day 2020, I was happy to learn that I could join other Quakers in worship throughout the day and coming night. My husband and I began with the Pendle Hill morning meeting for worship at 8:30 pm. Later, we participated in an online training to  call voters whose mail-in ballots had been rejected for irregularities. We gave information about how they could cast a provisional ballot at their polling place. Several times during the day, we walked into the park and checked the lines at our local polling place, happy to see many cars and glad there was no evidence of voter intimidation.

Terry and I ate a quiet dinner together before turning on the evening news for our first dose of election results. Early in the evening, I had assumed that I would alternate back and forth between televised coverage of election results and periods of worship and prayer with others. The results that came in on the 6:30 and 7 pm news were unsettling, and I was grateful for the opportunity to join others in worship and prayer. While most in my community are liberal, Quakers fall on different places in the political spectrum. There was almost no partisan speech during any of the online vigils I attended. Though many of us have a strong preference for one party, our prayers were for the country as a whole, for the health of democracy, and for the future of the world.

The 8:30 pm meeting for worship organized by Pendle Hill and Philadelphia Yearly Meeting was a deeply settling experience. In the silence, I released my anxiety into God and felt blessed by the presence of the Spirit among us. When we introduced ourselves at the end, a couple from Canada assured us they were praying with us, which I found comforting. I next spent some time with those gathered in the vigil organized by New England Yearly Meeting, before joining Friends from Grass Valley Meeting in California for the final thirty minutes of their online meeting for worship. It felt very sweet to be united with Friends on the other side of the country, and I carried that sense of sweetness with me as I turned to the 11 pm evening news.

By then, Terry had gone to bed.  I was alone on the sofa when I heard that Ohio had been called for the Republicans, and that Florida was likely to go that way, too. Advance polls had indicated these two big states would be close, but in both of them the Republicans had won a decisive majority. Furthermore, the early returns from many other states, including my own, were less favorable than expected, though there was still much counting to do. I hadn’t expected, at that hour, such uncertainty about how the election would go.

I was grateful I did not have to stay alone in front of the television listening to commentators giving bad news.  Around midnight, for the second time that night, I joined the all-night vigil being held by Quakers in New England, now the only vigil I knew of that was still continuing. In advance, pairs of Friends had signed up to have “care” for each hour of the all-night vigil. Into the silence they generally offered a reading or prayer aloud. It wasn’t clear how many would join during the night, but the plan was that during any given hour there would always be at least two people present. At the top of each hour, the General Secretary of the Yearly Meeting, a lighted candle on his desk, introduced each new pair.

After an hour, I began to feel a craving to hear the latest poll results and the commentary of tv reporters, even though I knew by then that conclusive results would not be available for days to come. As I made internal movements to leave the room and go back to the tv, the words of a Taize chant came to my mind, a version of the words that Jesus spoke in the garden of Gethsemane as he was struggling in prayer to follow God’s will, even to the cross. He had brought his three closest disciples to the garden with him and asked them to “watch and pray,” i.e., to be in a prayer vigil with him as he faced God alone nearby, deeply afraid. Three times when he checked, he found them asleep and woke them up to pray with him.

Stay with me, remain here with me. Watch and Pray. Watch and Pray.”

I began to sing aloud the words of the chant, even though my video remained muted. I felt that God, Jesus, or the inward Guide was telling me not to abandon the vigil, but to stay in prayer with others.

I stayed, but it was hard to do so. I felt deep anguish about the world, about so many terrible problems that had been exacerbated by the current administration rather than helpfully addressed: climate change, the pandemic, racism and xenophobia, foreign relations, sexism, national disunity, and more. Staying in prayer, with God, in the face of these large challenges and with suffering all over the world required me to keep my heart open and feel pain and vulnerability. I wanted to flee to the television commentary. I knew it would probably not offer any comfort at that late hour, but it would distract me from feeling my anxiety and the condition of the world.

Stay with me, remain here with me. Watch and Pray. Watch and Pray.”

I remembered a painting I had seen at my mother’s house and in other places, an image of Jesus revealing his heart surrounded by a crown of thorns, a big loving heart acutely in touch with the pain of the world. He was inviting us to open our sacred hearts, as well, and join him in that place of deeply loving vulnerability.

Terry woke from sleep and joined the vigil, too. At two-thirty am, I felt very sleepy and went to bed still anxious for the future of the world, but knowing I was not alone. God was with all of us, in our suffering and in our hope. God had been at work in my heart that night, opening and clearing it out, so I could be more available to the Spirit in the time to come.

For days I checked the changing numbers as the counting of ballots continued in my state. The Democrats now held the majority, but the margin was still too close to call the state. On Saturday morning, November 7, I joined an extended meeting for worship (lasting from 10:15 am to noon) with Quakers in Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, my spiritual community. Again I felt the power of being in worship and prayer with others, in spite of it being online rather than in person.  Again I felt pulled deep within myself to the place where I was aware of the divine Presence with us, active in the world. It was calming, and my heart felt lighter. I knew that whoever won the election, the challenges ahead for our nation and for all nations will be very great, but I also could feel the divine accompaniment that was being poured out for all.

Friends offered several messages in vocal ministry. About twenty minutes before noon, someone reported she had just received a text message from her daughter asking, “Are you dancing in the streets?” It could only mean one thing. Indeed, the election results had been declared. As a state, Pennsylvania had voted for a change in our nation’s leadership. In the streets of Philadelphia, where the United States became a country centuries ago, there soon was dancing in the streets—and in many other places as well.

God is with those who voted for change, and also with those who voted against change, as well as with those who didn’t or couldn’t vote. Divine love is present unconditionally for all of us. We will need to rest in it, receive it, pass it on, and take heart from it as we collectively face the challenges that are still with us, and those to come. I’m happy for the prospect of times to join again with others in prayer and vigil—in the coming days, years, and decades. May we collectively become better and better able—and willing—to stay awake with God in love and anguish as we seek a healing way forward for all.

© 2020 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.)

Find a Quaker Meeting near you: Quaker Finder

To read an overview of how early Friends experienced the powerful transformation that resulted from faithfully following the Light of Christ through this spiritual journey, see my 2013 blog post entitled The New Birth.

Posted in Contemplative spirituality, Facing Life with Faith, Living in a Time of Pandemic, Quaker Faith Today | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

One Nation Under Love

A poem by Ken Jacobsen, a Quaker who lives in Wisconsin:

One Nation Under Love

   it is good to remember

   in this time of political stress,

   we are all already citizens

   of the country of Love,

   in the democracy of Love,

   one nation under Love,

   the Love that was from the beginning;

   and whoever we may choose in our elections,

   Love has already chosen us,

   to heal us, to make us a more perfect union,

   to make us whole in our hearts,

   and in our land.

                    kpj 10/29/20

Today, along with my fellow citizens of the country of Love–people all over the world—I am praying for a peaceful, fair, truthful outcome to yesterday’s election in the USA.  Even more, I am praying that as a nation and as part of the planetary community of Love, we may honestly address the enormous challenges that face us all.

Posted in All of Life is Sacred, Facing Life with Faith, healing, Quaker Faith Today, Radical Christianity, Stories that Heal, Working for Peace and Justice | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Interviewing EarthQuaker Carl Magruder

Recently I had the opportunity to interview an extraordinary Friend, Quaker hospice chaplain and traveling minister Carl Magruder.  At the time of our interview, more than 500 wildfires were raging in the state of California, where he lives.  He spoke of his experience of the start of the fires, and addressed the challenging nature of our era—a time of the Great Unraveling that precedes the Great Turning. He explained why he is a Quaker, described his calls and leadings, and shared his experience as a hospice chaplain.  He told me about seeking support for his spiritual gifts and described the help he has received from Quaker elders and his anchor committee, offering the example of how he was supported while preparing and offering the 2020 FGC Gathering morning Bible Half Hours, with the theme of “Jesus as Trickster.”  At the end of the interview, he spoke of his sense of oneness with the world.  An EarthQuaker, he finds God in the world around him.

Carl wonders at the Jack Pine, whose cones only open and germinate in fire. Can Friends be a people of faith on fire? Surrender our fears to God and find new life and vitality?

If you have difficulty with the link, above, try this one: https://youtu.be/iuo5chxzYcg

The recordings of Carl Magruder’s morning Bible Half Hour sessions at the 2020 virtual Friends General Conference Gathering are available online at Carl Magruder Bible Half Hour Sessions FGC 2020

Carl will facilitate the first Sunday afternoon session of a monthly online Bible Series, entitled “Walking With the Bible” offered jointly by Woolman Hill Retreat Center and Beacon Hill Friends House.  The first session is Sunday, October 4th, 4pm EDT, 1pm Pacific time.  For more information, go to: https://bhfh.org/bible-series

Posted in All of Life is Sacred, Facing Life with Faith, Following a Leading, Quaker Faith Today, Supporting Spirit-led Ministry | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Healing Prayers for the Nation

At my house, for half a year we’ve been watching the evening news daily.  We’ve discovered that doing so fosters an underlying sense of agitation, which makes it harder to retain a calm, clear connection to God’s love and guiding presence.  Our alarming moment in time asks us to make a more deliberate effort to connect with the divine reality, through prayer, worship, meditation, walks in nature, honest and loving conversations, service, and in other ways.  In my Quaker community a couple weeks ago, we experienced an online meeting for worship that was silent for an hour (a rare occurrence for us).  Afterwards, many who participated spoke of a sense of inward healing, release, restoration, and peace.  We felt strengthened by the Spirit to bring our best efforts to the work and witness we are called to in the world.  At home, we’ve decided to spend less time watching news of the world on tv, and more time attending to the Source of life, which can make all things new.

A group from Swarthmore and Chester Meetings has been convening a “meeting for prayer and healing” once a month for several years.  In mid-March of 2020, we started holding the meeting online, twice a month, on the second and fourth Thursdays.  In the silence, everybody turns their attention to the healing power of the divine Light, centering in the eternal oneness in which all is already whole, healed, and in harmony. In the silent prayer, we open ourselves to participate in the always ongoing universal flow of divine healing energy.  When we find ourselves moved to pray for a particular person or situation, we may speak or pray out loud and invite others to join us in our prayer.

Usually in these meetings for prayer and healing, there are requests to hold several particular people in the Light, as well as situations that are on our hearts.  We alternate between silent prayer and vocal prayer.  Usually by the end of the hour, I have a clear feeling that the Spirit has been at work among us, using us for divine purposes.

Those of us who convene these meetings for prayer and healing are feeling led at this time to focus the upcoming sessions–on the second and fourth Thursdays of September and October–to prayers for the healing of the nation and for wisdom for the people of the U.S.A. as we chose our President.  The Nov 3rd election will have significant repercussions for the whole world, and we invite prayers from all.  We request that the prayers be focused on bringing in God’s love, truth, justice, and peace, and that no particular individuals, candidates, or political parties be named.  Our hope is to strengthen the connection to the divine Reality in which the best choice can by made and not to engage in partisan politics during the meeting for healing.  Our expectation is that during this time of prayer, many of us may find spiritual strength to support our urgent work in support of particular candidates and issues during the months before the election.

To take time together to focus on the Spirit rather than politics is to strengthen the spiritual bonds necessary for the best outcome for the whole world.  Keeping our focus on God during our time of prayer opens us to a wisdom and guidance more true than anything being said on tv or in the media.

We take inspiration from words written by a Friend at the very beginning of the Quaker movement, during a time of great political and spiritual unrest in England:

To the present distracted and broken nation: We are not for names, nor men, nor titles of Government, nor are we for this party nor against the other . . . but we are for justice and mercy and truth and peace and true freedom, that these may be exalted in our nation, and that goodness, righteousness, meekness, temperance, peace, and unity with God and with one another, that these things may abound.

                                                                        —  Edward Burrough, 1659

Below is a prayer written for our time by a contemporary Friend, Ken Jacobsen:

Oh America, Blessed Community
oh America, blessed community,
we see that our civil war
never quite ended;
dear God of our healing,
teach us to end the civil war in our hearts,
to make a just and loving peace within and among us,
to keep growing and growing our more perfect union,
one nation under God,
amen.
                                          kpj 7/5/20

     *     *     *     *     *

© 2020 Marcelle Martin

The next online meetings for prayer and healing will be on Thursday evenings November 26, and December 10  and 24.  We will continue to pray for our nation in this time of transition, and will also welcome other prayer requests. We meet 7:15 to 8:15 Eastern time on Zoom.  To receive a link to join us online, please fill out this form.  It’s important to answer the questions. 

 

The Pendle Hill pamphlet #382, Holding One Another in the Light, by Marcelle Martin (2006) can be ordered HERE.

Posted in All of Life is Sacred, Facing Life with Faith, healing, Living in a Time of Pandemic, prayer, Quaker Faith Today, spiritual practices | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Within the Vast Wholeness

Three weeks in the Shenandoah Valley helped me settle better into my place on this wide Earth. It was my first trip since the pandemic began. Lack of other recent travel perhaps helped me open more fully to the awesome expanses in what the locals call “God’s Country.”

I went to Virginia to visit my mother. Our initial efforts at distancing in the same house were awkward, but soon we found a good rhythm. Much of the day I stayed in the spacious basement rooms, which open out onto the lawn in back. I frequently walked the ridge of the housing complex where my mother lives, past comfortable new homes to the far end of the roads, where there are still-open hillside spaces, much of it now marked as lots for sale.

Both from the windows of my mother’s duplex and from the streets along the ridge, I enjoyed wide vistas, including remaining farmland. The openness extended miles, ending in mountains, usually topped by puffy ranges of white clouds, but sometimes covered in mist, or gray clouds of rain. On the clearest days, I could see range beyond range.

Many times when my mother and I took our evening walk, we were awed by splendid, enormous displays of color, sunlight, and cloud.

Walking in these open landscapes, I felt I’d been let out of a closed space into something much larger. This spring and summer, most of my outdoor time was spent close to home, or in the nearby park. My husband and I had dug up more of the yard for garden space and planted many new kinds of seeds. With my hands in the earth, I felt more truly how my body is part of the planet. I’d learned how going barefoot in my backyard helps to literally ground me. 

Like most people, I’m used to spending my time in spaces built on a human scale: rooms inside buildings, fenced yards, city streets lined by sidewalks and buildings. In these human-constructed environments, I and my fellow humans see ourselves as large and important. But walking along a high ridge in the Shenandoah Valley, with a vista miles wide in every direction, it was quite evident that my body is a very small moving part of the Earth. Perhaps one reason we often relax in nature is because of the sense it imparts that life actually unfolds on a larger scale than the scope to which we usually limit ourselves.

The evening news on television focuses mostly on human-sized dramas.  My mother and I watched it every night, seeing distressing scenes from around the world.  During the lead-up to the national political conventions, we listened to campaign rhetoric and political commentary that often exacerbated the differences in our political views. One evening when she revealed her intentions for the next election, I responded with anger and heated arguments. What is at stake is deeply connected for both of us to our spirituality and religious beliefs. We have different ideas about which political party better supports life and respects its sacredness. In my view, one party, while claiming to be Pro Life, is accelerating death on this planet in so many ways, allowing increasing pollution of the air, water, soil, atmosphere, and ecology, damaging or destroying essentials required to sustain life both now and for future generations. This party has removed scores of policies designed to protect the environment, and the behaviors it supports are fueling the catastrophes of climate change. Although one political party is accelerating this destruction significantly more than the other, I am sadly aware that our culture as a wholeincluding both major political parties—has not adequately addressed these huge problems facing our country and the world. Enormous forest fires are raging, polar caps are melting, and massive hurricanes are flattening cities.  Yet the media gives much more news time to smaller events and controversies. The voices that could guide us on a healing path are rarely heard.

Taking morning walks along the ridge helped lift me out of a sense of turmoil into a wider perspective. Nonetheless, every day as I walked past new mini-mansions being build on what was recently farmland and forest, I mourned. Several time I climbed up the highest ridge of the housing complex, and looked beyond. On the other side of the ridge, in several directions, I saw other new housing complexes

Everybody wants a comfortable life in a beautiful place. I certainly do.  Yet, when there is no longer any farmland left in this beautiful valley, refrigerated trucks will bring ever more food to feed those who are chopping down trees, turning up topsoil, and settling here. It’s not clear how we will feed feed our exploding human population when there is no longer enough farmland anywhere to grow food for all, or enough fuel to transport it long distances. Standing on the ridge, a small dot in a large landscape, I had a clearer sense of myself as part of a species rather than primarily as an individual. A species that is recklessly, heedlessly destroying the environment that sustains our lives. I am a part of my culture. For all of my life I, too, have participated in ways of living that are destructively unsustainable.

During my walks, I prayed to know how humanity can move forward in a healing way. I prayed for direction and guidance, for a divine voice from a burning bush. I prayed to understand my part in the divine plan.

Those three weeks were a time for sabbath rest. I let my work on various projects slow down. Gradually, my busy mind became quieter, too. It became more clear how the activity of our minds create human-sized mindscapes in the way that our urban and suburban-spaces create human-sized environments. In both our minds and our human spaces, our activity looms large. In a wider physical landscape, and with a more spacious mental terrain, I could better feel the deeper source of life. I sensed more clearly the slow, powerful pulse of life energy that flows through the earth, and through my body and all bodies.  I sensed the presence of divine presence and guidance, and a softening in my heart.

I heard a quiet inward voice saying, “We’ll find a way of forgiving.” It was an invitation to enter God’s peace. It came with a sense that we can only find the way forward from a place of love, forgiveness, and attentiveness to spiritual realities and the deeper energies that sustain life. The peace I found in the wide landscape and in my sabbath time gave me a sense that even at this late hour, it’s not too late to choose a path toward a hopeful future.

Until the time I said good-bye to my mother at the end of three weeks, both of us were still maintaining six feet of distance.  In parting, as we expressed our love for each other, my Mom reached out.  We hugged each other close, heart to heart.

Within the Vast Wholeness: When has time outdoors helped create greater space inside you?

© 2020 Marcelle Martin

For Information About Upcoming Online Webinars and Courses with Marcelle Martin, click HERE.

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.)

To order multiple copies of either book, postage free, contact us.

Find a Quaker Meeting near you: Quaker Finder

Posted in All of Life is Sacred, environmental activism, Facing Life with Faith, Living in a Time of Pandemic, Stories that Heal | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

The Power and Potential of Faithfulness Groups

A couple of hours before my faithfulness group met, an unexpected event triggered strong emotions. I had waited a few months for my turn to give a presentation, and I was dismayed to be in such an emotional state when the day came. I had planned to coolly bring a discernment question. In the moment, however, I felt it was important to offer my whole, authentic self to the group and to speak about my distress, which was related to low-paid compensation for my work. It was embarrassing to admit that in relationship to my ministry among Friends, there are moments when I feel sad, afraid, and angry. However, these trusted Friends had been my spiritual companions for a long time. I knew they would listen in a supportive, loving, and helpful way. That day, my freshly plowed-up distress helped me overcome my habit of withholding certain difficult truths and painful emotions.

Later, group members thanked me for being vulnerable and sharing so honestly. I was grateful to them for lovingly holding what I said in their hearts. Their gentle questions helped me to look more deeply into the causes of my distress and also, eventually, to affirm my path, even with its difficulties. By the end of my time in the group’s focus, I was able to see more clearly and deeply appreciate the larger context of divine love and care in my life. I felt deeply grateful for the freedom I’d had in my life to follow my call. That time as the focus of my faithfulness group was very healing. It freed me to move on from my distress to my next steps, with a grateful heart.

Faithfulness groups (by a variety of names) have provided an immensely helpful support to me in carrying out a call of spiritual nurture to individuals and communities. Four years ago, I felt a leading to share as widely as possible the practice of faithfulness groups (also called mutual spiritual accountability groups or peers groups).  I’ve done so in a variety of ways, including the publication of A Guide to Faithfulness Groups. A web page about Faithfulness Groups contains links to many kind of helpful resources, including videos, documents, and an audio recording. 

Members of a faithfulness group.

Below is some text from A Guide to Faithfulness Groups (from pages 67-69) about

The Potential of Faithfulness Groups.

Human beings are created with the capacity to be filled with divine love, to live in harmony with God’s will, and to be dedicated to contributing to the greatest good that is possible. We have spiritual senses that can tune us into the loving guidance and energizing power of the Spirit. Faithfulness groups encourage their members to greater boldness in listening and responding to God’s call. For many, this results in a greater willingness to speak truth clearly and an increased ability to love, forgive, and serve others. Some people find they are called to make radical changes or to take great risks for the sake of manifesting God’s love, truth, and justice. A faithfulness group can make God’s work possible by supporting the careful discernment of such a call and helping members make required changes and take the necessary steps. Often, the support and participation of many is needed for faithfulness to become possible.

In our time, we are being called to shed our overemphasis on independence and to focus more on life lived deeply with and for each other. In faithfulness groups, as we open authentically to each other and more trustingly to the divine Presence, we soften our hardened, self-protective boundaries and discover more fully the greater love that unites us with one another in the wholeness of God. Quakers have often had the experience they refer to as a “gathered meeting” in their meetings for worship, an experience of collectively being drawn into a deeper union with one another in the Spirit. This experience can also happen in the silences and prayerful accompaniment of a faithfulness group. Together, members learn to sense the Spirit and hear more clearly the truth of God’s guidance for each and for all. The more people practice this skill with each other, trustingly and whole-heartedly, the better able they are to access this state in other situations, with other people, including the wider group of their faith communities. Faithfulness groups cultivate capacities that are growing in the human race and that can become more accessible to all.

In certain periods in history, it is exceedingly difficult for individuals or groups to go beyond the norms of their times. But at other times, the winds of the Spirit can move powerfully through groups of attentive, faithful people who mutually support each other. It is possible for human beings to waken from the trance of cultural norms, cultivate spiritual sensitivity, and work together to create societies that encourage a new way of life on earth. In our time, this can happen more rapidly than ever before and on a wider scale. It is possible for humanity to live into a hopeful future as we face the enormous challenges and changes that are present and coming in our time. In faithfulness groups, we can help each other activate potentials of the Spirit that we did not previously believe were possible, abilities to receive divine knowledge, to heal, and to connect with other people and the planet on deep spiritual levels. There is great evolutionary potential in small groups of people meeting regularly to help each other pay attention to the Spirit, waken to the Presence of God, fully incarnate the Light of Christ within, and take the leaps of courage and faith that will help us move in the direction of the new and renewed ways of living to which we are being called.

The Power of a Faithfulness Group © 2020 Marcelle Martin

For Information about the upcoming free online webinar about Faithfulness Groups as well as courses with Marcelle Martin, click HERE.

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.)

Find a Quaker Meeting near you: Quaker Finder.

Posted in Contemplative spirituality, Facing Life with Faith, Quaker Faith Today, spiritual practices | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Where Does Healing Begin?

I’ve struggled with the sense of being led to write this blog post.  Surely, God, others are better qualified, have more to say, have greater wisdom on the subject of racism and white supremacy!  No doubt others are better able to help us find the way toward healing?  Yes, of course, I hear.  But this is a task for everybody, not just the most qualified.  

Since the pandemic was declared in March, my husband and I have been watching both national and world news.  On Monday May 25, 2020, along with the rest of the nation—and later the world–we were stunned and horrified to watch video footage of a Black man being murdered on a street in Minneapolis, a policeman pressing a knee down on his neck, calmly looking into the video camera of the young bystander who was recording the event. Equally terrible murders of those in police or state custody and in the hands of mobs have been happening in this country for centuries, but until recently it has been rare to see video footage of such an event.  In the days following George Floyd’s death, the tv news reported protests, looting, and burning of buildings in Minneapolis and soon in other cities, as well.

Photo by Tony Zhen on Unsplash

At dinnertime on Friday, May 29, I saw on television that events at the peaceful protests in nearby Philadelphia had turned violent. Police cars had been set on fire, along with a Starbucks beside City Hall. A line of shielded police had slowly moved both the peaceful protesters and violent agitators farther and farther away from City Hall. The crowd began to move into nearby streets. In the next hours, we saw live footage of looters breaking glass storefronts and carrying armloads of stuff out of the stores, setting fire in some places. Similar events were taking place in cities across the nation. By midnight, when the news ended, firemen were pouring streams of water on a tall burning building in Center City; the fire had spread to two other buildings nearby.

Like many other liberal white people in the nation, my husband and I were in sympathy with the peaceful protesters. We would have joined them if we weren’t in the midst of a pandemic. Even violent outrage seemed understandable, although counter-productive. To us, however, the looting seemed baffling. We discovered a 15-minute video made by Trevor Noah that was very helpful. Entitled “George Floyd and the Dominos of Racial Injustice,” he spoke of white privilege and how the social contract by which people are supposed to live is so consistently violated in the experience of people of color. They themselves are looted every day, he said.

After the pandemic began, I had signed up for a five-week online course on Healing in the Gospels, offered by the Alternative Seminary in Philadelphia.* Each week we looked at one or two of the healings recorded in the gospels, focusing primarily on those in Mark. We examined several layers of healing, not only physical healing or release from evil spirits, but also healing from oppressive and injurious social structures. We spoke about the social laws that declared people with leprosy or menstruating women “untouchable.” We discussed how Jesus addressed both the physical and social healing needed.

I have long been moved by the story in Mark 5:25-34 of the woman who had been continuously menstruating for twelve years. She had spent all her money on so-called healers who had been unable to cure her. She was now not only ill, but also poor. As an “untouchable,” she was forbidden to touch the rabbi Yeshua, whose healing gifts she had heard about. Nonetheless, she joined a crowd gathered around him, got near, and took hold of his robe. The story is remarkable for many reasons. One is that Jesus did not see her or intend to heal her. The healing simply flowed out of him. He knew it had happened because he felt a power leaving him, and stopped to find out who had touched him. When the woman told her story, Jesus did not chastise her for violating the social and religious laws; instead he praised her faith and called her “daughter.”

The last session of the gospels course took place after weeks of nation-wide and then global protest of racist social structures. We looked at the story of the Syrophoenician woman in Mark 7:24-30. Just before the encounter happens, authorities in Jewish territory have been increasing their challenges of the unconventional behavior of Jesus and his disciples. Needing a break, to rest and pray, Jesus is tired and has traveled out of Jewish territory. A Greek-speaking Syrophoenician woman, whose child is possessed, has heard about his healing abilities and interrupts his quiet retreat. She comes to request that he heal her little girl.

She belongs to a group of people that Jews of the time disdainfully referred to as “dogs.” Knowing this gave our class a new lens to look at what happened in the exchange between the woman and Jesus. I was brought up believing that Jesus was always perfect from the beginning. Yet he responds to her request with an ethnic slur. His idea of himself at that point is that his mission is to the Jewish people only (‘the children of the House of Israel”), not to non-Jews like her. He doesn’t want to waste his gifts on others.

It’s not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs,” he tells her.

The Syrophoenician woman responds in a remarkable way. She doesn’t dispute his idea about his mission or protest about his rude slur. Wanting healing for her daughter, she lets that go. Instead, she challenges him another way.

Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs,” she says.

Like the woman healed of the issue of blood, this woman draws a healing from Jesus. She has taught him something, and he acknowledges that she is right. “For this saying,” he tells her, “you may go your way—the demon has gone out of your daughter.”

I once heard a scholar explain that the Greek word Jesus used in this passage for “saying” is “logos.” Logos means more than just a wise answer or saying. In early Christian writings (which were originally in Greek), the word was used to signify the principle of God active in Creation. It’s the word used in John’s gospel to describe the Wisdom of God, which incarnated in Jesus. So Jesus is acknowledging that with her response, the woman has taught him some divine wisdom. The healing God intends extends beyond the boundaries set by religious and social authorities and biases; it is meant for everyone.

One of the primary things that this passage of Mark teaches me is that even Jesus needed help to examine his limited self-concepts and ethnic prejudices. This passage gives a model of Jesus having his biases challenged and changed. This is a model for all of us.

Western civilization is possessed by many evil spirits, traumas, injuries, and illnesses. Divine and human healing of all kinds is needed. We must look inside ourselves, face the racism that has been ingrained and internalized in all members of society, and see the horrific consequences. We must examine our biases and prejudices. Those who have been shielded by social privileges must learn more about how this privilege has been used to oppress people and to keep the privileged from knowing the real effects of collective beliefs, behaviors, social policies, and laws.

In the 1960s, during another time of major social unrest over oppression of black people, James Baldwin wrote The Fire Next Time, in which he describes his upbringing in Harlem and the terrible dilemma that faced him and all young black men as they grew out of childhood. He does not mince words in talking about the horror of white supremacy and its effect on his people. Yet he concludes his essay not only with warning, but also with words of invitation to all people to participate in healing:

Everything now, we must assume, is in our hands; we have no right to assume otherwise. If we—and now I mean the relatively conscious whites and the relatively conscious blacks, who must, like lovers, insist on, or create, the consciousness of the others—do not falter in our duty now, we may be able, handful that we are, to end the racial nightmare, and achieve our country, and change the history of the world. If we do not now dare everything, the fulfillment of that prophecy, re-created from the Bible in song by a slave, is upon us: “God gave Noah the rainbow sign, No more water, the fire next time!

Last week, on PBS, I watched “I Am Not Your Negro”, a powerful documentary based on writing by James Baldwin about the lives and assassinations of his friends Medgar Evers, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X. The documentary includes powerful clips from an interview he gave on the Dick Cavett show. It also provides images to illustrate the horrific history of oppression of Black people in the United States. He insists that the idea of a “Negro” is a creation of the white people who have denied the full humanity, rights and dignity of people they have shamefully oppressed.

As can be seen in this short trailer for the movie, Baldwin insists that racial healing in the United States requires white people to stop being shallow and ignorant, and to see inside ourselves the truth of our prejudices and the way we project onto others.  

It’s a painful, humbling, and necessary task. Even Jesus needed to face and overcome his prejudices.

Looking inside ourselves and learning the truth about systemic racism are necessary steps, but many steps are called for. Each one of us must seek individually and collectively to learn how God is calling us to participate in truth, justice, and healing. Quaker Voluntary Service, a Quaker organization “living at the intersection of transformational spirituality and activism” has created a web page to help all of us think about our next steps.  It’s entitled What is your right next step?  It offers links to resources to follow up in whatever ways each of us is called to action.

Where do we begin healing?

© 2020 Marcelle Martin

*The Alternative Seminary is a program of biblical and theological study and reflection designed to foster an authentic biblical witness in the modern world.  

Posted in Living in a Time of Pandemic, Radical Christianity, Stories that Heal, Working for Peace and Justice | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

The Power of Healing Prayer

We all have the capacity to be channels of powerful, divine, healing love.  The more we practice this, the more we are likely to experience that power flowing through us to a world in need.

As a child I said prayers, alone in my bed.  For a while I believed that if I said the same prayer each night, in the same words, my prayer would be granted.  Before I went to sleep I asked for long, happy, healthy lives for all my family members. 

In the following decades, family members faced various health and emotional challenges, some of us bigger challenges than others, but on the whole we were mostly healthy and happy.  In my mid-fifties, I found myself silently saying to God,  “Thank you, you have answered those prayers.”  Then I realized I had inner knowing that something was about to change.  Soon, my father was diagnosed with an illness that resulted in his death several years later.

Although I had a belief, early, in the effectiveness of prayer, it wasn’t until well into my adult life that I had began to actually feel the healing power of prayer.  Several times, I felt other’s prayers helping to release me from fear or painful emotional states, or giving me energy and courage in difficult circumstances.  And sometimes, while praying for others, I could feel strong energy moving through my hands (whether that person was nearby or far away.)  In a few cases, it seemed that physical healings experienced by me or by others were connected to prayer.

One autumn morning, during an overnight retreat with my small deeply-bonded Quaker community, we were called upon to pray for the beloved friend of one of our members, a woman who was scheduled to have an invasive surgery to remove a large tumor in her head.  Our prayers for this distant person were heart-felt.  After a period of silence and spoken words, a huge gust of wind circled the building, sending a swirl of golden leaves past the windows.  The prayer was finished. We felt that something had happened, but we didn’t know what.  Later we learned that during that same morning, in a distant city, that woman had felt something change inside her.  She didn’t know what.  Nor had she known we would be praying for her.  A couple days later, however, when she returned to the cancer center to be measured for her head surgery, they could no longer find any sign of the tumor.  She remained cancer-free for a couple more years.

In the Scriptures and probably in every culture, we can find many accounts of mysterious and miraculous healings.  At the same time, we probably all know people who have intensely prayed for a physical healing for themselves or others who did not experience the kind of healing they wanted; we may have experienced this ourselves.  Many people have told me that in childhood they prayed for a dying grandparent or another loved one, who died nonetheless.  This left them doubting the existence of God. 

There are a multitude of ways to conceive of the Eternal Being and also innumerable ways to pray.  There are many different beliefs about the power prayer can have–or doesn’t have.  Opening ourselves to be channels of divine healing requires humility.  Although we may have strong ideas about what we want to happen, and these ideas may be good, we must let the mysterious power of God come through us without being able to know or control exactly what form healing might take.  Even though so much about healing prayer is out of our control, the power is real.  We are all invited to be channels of divine healing for others and for the world.   If we open up to do so, much healing can happen–emotional, spiritual, physical, social, environmental–especially when we unite in doing this collectively.  Society itself and human culture can undergo profound transformation and healing as more people join together in praying for collective wholeness and well-being, not only for ourselves but for the planet.

In this time when people everywhere are experiencing fear, loss, illness, sadness, overwhelm, and disruption of their lives, I pray that more and more of us will turn to God and open ourselves to become channels of the divine healing Love that wants to reach, teach, guide, and heal us now.

Nothing can stop the silent flight of prayers

Later in the summer (2020) I will be holding a free online workshop on Healing Prayer

Are you willing to allow God’s healing power to flow through you to others and the world?  In this interactive online workshop, we will practice becoming more receptive to the divine healing available to all, and try out a few different forms of prayer, including praying with a Scripture story of a healing done by Jesus.  In pairs and small groups, we’ll share our experiences with one another.

There is no charge for the Saturday workshop (which is a repeat of one offered in April).  Fill out the registration form below, and you’ll be sent a Zoom link to connect with the workshop via computer, tablet, iphone, android, or land line phone. 

Also

A six-week online course on Healing Prayer  following after the webinar

Please indicate when you register for the workshop if you’re interested in receiving information about the 6-week online course and whether you prefer 7 pm Eastern time or 10:30 am Eastern time (4 pm or 7:30 am Pacific; 10 pm or 3:30 pm London.)

Marcelle Martin is the author of Our Life is Love: The Quaker Spiritual Journey, A Guide to Faithfulness Groupsand the Pendle Hill pamphlet, Holding One Another in the Light. A member of Swarthmore Friends Meeting, she has led workshops at retreat centers and Quaker meetings across the United States. She was the resident Quaker Studies teacher at Pendle Hill for four years and is a core teacher for the 9-month program, “Nurturing Faithfulness.” For many years she has helped to facilitate regular meetings for prayer and healing. On her blog, A Whole Heart (awholeheart.com), she shares inspiration to help us be all God has created us to be. She lives in Chester, PA with her husband, Terry.

To receive a Zoom link to participate in the May 23rd free online workshop on Healing Prayer, 1 pm Eastern time, please fill out this form and press “Submit.”

If your answers don’t appear above after you click on “submit,” ie if this form does not seem to work for you, please Contact Us to send your email address to Marcelle.

Pendle Hill pamphlet #382, Holding One Another in the Light by Marcelle Martin, can be ordered HERE.

Holding One Another pamphlet cover a

man arms outstretched red sky shah-rokh-AMwEpSGALSU-unsplash

 

Posted in All of Life is Sacred, Facing Life with Faith, Living in a Time of Pandemic, Quaker Faith Today, Radical Christianity, spiritual practices, Stories that Heal | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Beginning Our Self-Isolation

Early in the first week in isolation, Terry and I felt shaken, both by the changes that were going on so quickly, inside our house and in the world, and by new pressures on our marriage.

As a couple, we began our self-isolation (or self-quarantine) on Friday evening, March 13, 2020. For weeks we had been following the news about the spread of the new coronavirus in other countries, and the first reports from the USA. Our government was pooh-poohing the danger. At first Terry was, too. After all, thousands of people die every year from the flu. Surely the news reports were sensationalism, he thought. But I, at least, was getting enough information to stock up on some extra food supplies, mostly bags of dried beans.

In the second week of March, however, in written news, we started seeing detailed analyses of how the virus had spread in other countries and projections of what rate it would soon be spreading in ours, the severity of the crisis depending upon whether or not we took serious measures to control the spread. Some sources urged us to help “flatten the curve. By reducing the rate at which the virus spread, we could lessen the severity of the burden on our health care system.

Terry, now taking the danger more seriously than I, urged me to cancel my trip to California. I prayed about it and still felt drawn to go. But three nights in a row, in the middle of the night, I found myself awake and anxious. 

On Wednesday, March 11 the World Health Organization declared a pandemic, saying that the coronavirus epidemic would reach all countries on the globe. The president of our country and his aides were still minimizing the danger, but by Thursday, March 12, some big organizations in the US had decided that stringent measures were necessary. Terry explained to me that if the National Basketball Association had suspended its season and the NCAA basketball tournament was canceled, that meant the danger of mass contagion must be great, since multi-million-dollar businesses would not stop their revenues for anything less than a severe threat. In the Philadelphia area, reports of possible exposure by staff or students at certain schools led to the first school closures. Online we found more information and detailed analysis. Two nearby workshops I was scheduled to facilitate during the second half of March were postponed. I canceled my trip to California.

By Thursday night, March 12, we had read enough to be convinced that it was time for isolation, both to protect ourselves (we are both over 60) and to protect others in case we had already caught the virus (which we couldn’t know because the incubation period without symptoms can be long.) We decided it would be okay to one last time attend our regularly scheduled, sparsely attended Meeting for Prayer and Healing, held at local Chester Meeting.  Maintaining large distances between us and refraining from hugs or the laying on of hands, we found ourselves drawn into a deep silence, in prayer. I took a long lingering look at my friends that night as we left the meetinghouse, wondering when we would meet together in person again, and if we would all be together then. 

After we got home, we decided we’d do some last outside errands the next day, and then begin our self-isolation.  However, many others had also become convinced that same day of the seriousness of the crisis. By 8 am the next morning, stores were running out of cleaning supplies and toilet paper. Terry called me from the parking lot of the nearest large grocery store. He said the lot was jammed with cars and he didn’t have time to shop because he was expected to help out at the home of his best friend, who is ill.

Going online immediately to order cleaning supplies and food, I discovered that even online most disinfectants were sold out, and many types of food were scarce, tooAfter hours spent that Friday morning shopping online, I stepped out into the sunshine to walk to the pharmacy. The birds were chirping; I heard them more clearly than usual. The world seemed different, but I realized that it was not the world, but I, who had changed dramatically. I had taken in a new understanding of reality; understanding that a pandemic was unfolding that would have serious, painful consequences for our society and for many communities, families, and individuals, including people I know and love.

At our small local pharmacy, there were only a few customers. I waited as they filled my prescription, and meanwhile I bought two small bottles of 70& alcohol (the limit), one small bottle of hand sanitizer, and some sugar-free cough drops. (All of these items had been “Out of Stock” when I tried to order them online that morning). I paid with a credit card and was not eager to touch the plastic pen used by every customer who signed the key pad. I felt awkward and embarrassed as I wrapped the pen in a tissue before signing my name. After leaving the pharmacy, I looked in the windows of the grocery store nearby and decided not to stand in line with the crowds of people congregating with full shopping carts.

Terry spent most of the day with his friend, knowing it would be the last time they’d be together in person for a while. By the time he was ready to attempt another grocery run, he had heard that there were empty shelves in the nearby stores. So he drove out beyond the suburbs until he found a store that still had food (though no toilet paper, bleach, or alcohol wipes).

After Terry and I both arrived home, we showed each other the supplies we’d gathered, pleased with ourselves. Then we began a new, more vigorous round of wiping doorknobs, counters, faucet handles, etc. Terry’s mother had raised her sons to clean very thoroughly, including mopping floors in a certain way. I was brought up by a father who taught us emergency-preparedness. During my elementary and middle school years my father was worried about nuclear bombs, and I’d taken a workshop with the Girl Scouts on creating a family emergency shelter. Terry and I both think the other person is a bit obsessive about the particular areas in which we were trained as children, but on Friday the 13th these were helpful and complementary skills as we began our isolation for a period of time whose duration is unknown.

That first evening, we felt competent. We watched a movie and ate popcorn.

The next morning, however, we quarreled about something minor. That made us realize we were more affected by the pressures of our new situation than we had realized. This was sobering. After all, we had only just begun.

Beginning Our Self-Isolation: What happened as you learned about the pandemic and contemplated ways your life would need to change? What has that experience been like?

© 2020 Marcelle Martin

Do you have a sewing machine? Here’s a way to help out, making DIY masks, helpful for seniors or others until the supply of medical masks becomes adequate.  Some suggest putting a washable cloth mask over a medical mask, if you have one, because the cloth mask can be washed.  These masks need to be washed and kept dry.  There’s a link to research studies of which fabrics make the best filters and are most breathable. https://www.drstreicher.com/dr-streicher-blog/2020/3/a-surgeon-sewing-a-surgical-mask

For Information About Upcoming Online Webinars and Courses with Marcelle Martin, click HERE.

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.)

Posted in Facing Life with Faith, Living in a Time of Pandemic | Tagged , , , , , , , | 10 Comments