Marcelle Martin on the Quaker practice of surrendering the self-will and how this practice will be absolutely crucial if we are going to avoid catastrophe.
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Today we live in a time of crisis, and a nearness really to catastrophe on the planet that threatens the survival of the human race and all of the other species on the planet. It’s a time of great crisis – more than we know, I believe. And also a time when God is calling us to great change.
How Will We Respond to the Crises of Our Time?
My name is Marcelle Martin. I’ve got a blog where I’m sharing what I’ve been learning from the first Quakers—the amazing discoveries they made and how people are living out that spiritual journey in our time.
I think that everything that we need in order to face the challenges and the crises in our time are within us, and we need to bring it out because every person on the planet has a piece of that, can do God’s work in helping to restore the planet and to make this a place where love and peace prevail. But we have to change our ways. It’s a time where great, great change is needed and needed quickly, and will draw forth from us potentials that really haven’t been seen except in extraordinary people in the past—and these are potentials that are part of everyone.
Desire and the the Will of the Self
At the very beginning of the Quaker movement, they had a very strong understanding of God’s will for us and how to live being different from the normal human will, and they discovered—first of all—the amazing presence of the divine within themselves and within everyone and within the world, but then there’s—on the other hand—the will of the small individual self who feels afraid, and because of fear has greed, and of course has natural human desires, some of which become overpowering lusts—desires for comfort, for security, for social status, and when those desires are in control, that’s what they called the “self”. And so they understood that your self-will could not be in control—that this spiritual journey was about surrendering that identity, that will, for God’s will.
It’s a process by which the ego is no longer the master of your actions, or in control. There’s something larger that’s in control.
Quaker Practice: “Give Over Thine Own Willing”
And I think that’s something that we learn every day. Every day we have opportunities to choose between our personal desires, our personal comfort, our personal security, and serving others. Bringing love to others. Bringing truth to others in ways that might not be comfortable to ourselves personally. Everybody has those opportunities every single day and we get practice in doing that every day.
One way that I get practice is that I’m a shy person, I’m an introvert. I prefer to spend my time reading and writing. Talking to people is often a challenge to me, and yet what I feel called to do involves teaching and talking and leading workshops and being a public personality, and so every time I do that, in a sense, I’m surrendering to this larger purpose.
“A Different Kind of People”
None of us can actually see how we’re going to solve the big problems. In fact, most people are spending a lot of energy denying the magnitude of the problems that we face in our time. So that’s the first challenge really: to face the crises of our time, and then to learn how to let God direct us in solving the problem and becoming a different kind of people—letting those potentials that are within us become manifest.