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Love Cannot Be Overwhelmed

Photo by Rob Deutscher (Flickr/bobarc, CC BY 2.0)

As Quakers, we participate in a free state of universal community. That community, some of us feel, is now immersed in a dark sea of predation that includes people who do not seem to realize that unchecked predation must ultimately consume itself.

For those people who would live by generosity of spirit and who hear from the “other” the same heartbeat as their own, being caught up in a deluge of greed and indifference is repugnant and repulsive. Feeling powerless to check a flooding sea, they know despair and discouragement. It feels as though that predacious sea crashes against the shore of human decency with the power of a tsunami to overwhelm and engulf it. It cannot.

People have built sea walls in places of the world where tsunamis are not uncommon. These walls are designed and built to absorb and deflect the furious energy of massive waves and to thereby minimize, even eliminate, their destructive power. Let us recognize that our free state of spiritual community is a sea wall. Our wall is not for exclusion, nor is it a hiding place. It is a wall of protective inclusion, strength, and righteous defense. Like the steel that forms the flexible, resilient, and robust core embedded in the concrete ribs that form the walls, our testimonies have provided us with a moral anchor and compass. Guided by them, we have stood for centuries before injustice and debased custom, and have spoken our truth. With our faith in the universal love that undergirds our beliefs, we have maintained our peaceful dignity, at times in the face of aggressive indignity. We are not unaccustomed to confronting destructive power, nor to seeking peaceful means to negate that power. We have persevered in the foundational belief in the inherent value of everyone. Our faith has been our guide and our security.

As Quakers, we participate in that spiritual community that knows “no other worship than the inner Flame that is ever lit at the shrine of Spirit.” This community is unlimited and, in fact, needs no particular label because at its core, it is universal Love.

It was the recognition of this Love that infused the Spirit’s call that allowed early Quakers to endure the brutality and humiliation leveled against them. They too were speaking truth to power. There is nothing new in the battle between light and dark. There can be nothing new in this struggle because man is both light and dark with the choice to live either in the grip of fear or faith. To live in faith takes courage. Greed, predation, and indifference ultimately are all rooted in fear and lack of faith.

Now we are called upon to be faithful to our ideals, to testimonies that have been tried and tested both personally and corporately. They have withstood the test of time and opposition. They remain the core of values by which we choose to conduct our lives. From them we take courage, and they provide a compass for living in a dark world. They are values that recognize the inherent worth of all people who live on this planet. What darkness does or fails to do is immaterial in the face of the universal Love which is the foundation on which our faith is built.

Tsunamis come and go. They are a part of living on this world. The dark forces of human dimension are also storms that come and go. They cannot overwhelm even if at times they look like they might. Love cannot be overwhelmed. Love stays. As we love, we live. As we hate, we die. Even if for a moment the last spark of human warmth and caring were swallowed by the rapacious beast of this predatory world, love remains. That spark of warmth is an inextinguishable flame because it is that of God in each human soul that will reach out forever. We are not alone. Love will prevail.

Michael Lane lives in Burlington, N.J.

Posted in: June/July 2017: Reimagining the Quaker Ecosystem, Viewpoint

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