Book Review ~ Our Life is Love

Quakerism is a faith built upon on the premise that everyone can have direct access to Spirit and that the Divine is always revealing itself ” in real-time.” Marcelle Martin is one of the first people I met when I began attending Quaker Meeting ( that is a huge story in itself ). She quickly became a trusted friend,  role model, and mentor. She was instrumental in integrating me into the larger community and made it possible for me to take workshops at Pendle Hill , which led to many incredible experiences including my time spent with James.

Marcelle Martin’s book Our Life is Love: The Quaker Spiritual Journey takes the reader on an adventure back in time that chronicles the bravery and challenges faced by seventeenth century Quakers. The adventure continues into the present day where contemporary Friends share personal accounts of their spiritual awakening. The writing is raw, honest, and insightful, allowing the reader to feel the material and discover the universality of living a life with heart.  The author proposes a 10 step process of awakening that describes the internal transformation one undergoes as they seek to know the Divine within. The majority of the book is organized into three main sections: Awakening, Convincement, and Faithfulness.  Each section unfolds as a comparison between the historical and present day Friends as they sacrifice a conventional, material life for a soulful one comprised of simplicity, authenticity, and service to Spirit. The author does an excellent job bringing early Quaker experiences to life. She has an ability to take each individual’s struggles and joys and make them accessible and relatable. This ability gives the reader a rare glimpse into a time that was heavily entrenched with slavery, a strict societal hierarchy , and  no separation of Church and State.

The chapters on The Refiner’s Fire and Leadings are incredibly rich with descriptions of how individuals must make life – defining choices based on discernment and reliance on the Light. I certainly have experienced many situations on my path that resulted in the stripping away of what I no longer needed ( while my ego screamed with resistance) along with many tests of my ability to choose my soul’s desires over my ” personality’s” needs. Martin provides a framework for the seeker so that a safe container can be established when the going gets rough. As many already know, the emotional element of the mystical path is not easily navigated and can often divert one from progressing if the no container is available.

This is a fascinating read for anyone, regardless of religious affiliations. The Quaker faith is a mystical path and Martin’s model of awakening can be followed by any seeker on the path to self-realization. The reflection questions at the end of each chapter serve a guide to delve deeper into the material. The author shares her own mystical journey by incorporating the 1o stages into her story.  The spiritual path is truly a difficult one, inundated with paradox, loss, and allegiance to the Truth. Our Life is Love illustrates that this challenging path was chosen by those who were called to live a life with heartfelt devotion; where worship translated to service with the intention of creating a more enlightened world.

 

 BIO: Since 1996, Marcelle Martin has been traveling to Quaker meetings and retreat centers across the country to help individuals and communities increase awareness of the presence and activity of God within and among us. A teacher, writer, and workshop leader, she served for four years as the resident Quaker Studies teacher at Pendle Hill. She is the author of the book Our Life is Love: The Quaker Spiritual Journey, and the Pendle Hill pamphlets, “Invitation to a Deeper Communion” and “Holding One Another in the Light.” Her blog, A Whole Heart, is at   http://awholeheart.com.

Our Life is Love: The Quaker Spiritual Journey can be ordered from Inner Light Books in both paperback and eBook formats.

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