The Meeting of Wisdom and Quaker Mysticism Revisited: On the Eve of an Offering by Quaker Teacher Marcelle Martin

In May of 2017, almost one year ago, Cynthia joined forces with Quaker singer chant creator Paulette Meier and Quaker studies author and scholar Marcelle Martin for a retreat that was full of joy. In the simple beauty of Pendle Hill, gathering within the meeting house by the trinity of redwood trees (yes! It’s true), Quakers and Wisdom students joined forces for a week together to experience the resonance between these two streams, whose mystical roots drink from the same waters.

Cynthia reflected on the Christian mystical tradition in the context of the stunning connections between early Quaker experience and the Wisdom lineage she represents with its emphasis on the heart, embodied practice, luminous seeing, conscious awakening and transformation in daily life. Speaking to the stripping away of habitual identification, and the “lived in to being” experiential practice of grounded Christian Benedictine tradition in concert with the Gurdjieff work in an ever evolving Teilhardian human organism, Cynthia drew parallels to the Quaker mystical stream in a first-ever Quaker Wisdom School.

The group took care of the trees and gardens in conscious practical work, and each afternoon Marcelle led us into a direct relationship with the lives, practices and words of the early Quaker founders, who found through their deep connection to scripture, nature, and life, a trust in inner experience and the living Christ within that fanned the fires of divine love, grew “tender hearts,” and reveled in the divine exchange. Marcelle introduced Quaker exercises in discernment and tender heart sharing, offering practice time in dyads and small groups as a means to support one another as we “look within,” so central to both streams. Each afternoon for an hour those words were embodied by the group in the chants of Paulette Meier, who has taken those turns of phrase and set them to music, and whose powerful voice invited all to leap in without hesitation as we raised our voices and offered the passion of the early Quakers to the world in song.

The resonance between the Wisdom and Quaker traditions grew stronger by the day; gorgeous and profound. The connection clear, strong and deep enough that a sense of further work together will be forthcoming. In the meantime, Nurturing Faithfulness is an opportunity to receive help in connecting to deep and loving inner guidance. You’ll come away with individual and group practices that can provide long-term ongoing support, including Faithfulness Groups.

Cynthia, Paulette Meier and Marcelle Martin co-postholding at Pendle Hill, May 2017
Courtesy of Anna Harper


“Nurturing Faithfulness”, a course by Marcelle Martin, is being offered at Pendle Hill this month. A few days remain to join a wonderful group Sunday April 15-through Thursday April 19, on Pendle Hill’s beautiful campus dedicated to Quaker study, living and retreat. All are welcome for Spirit-led learning and community, located in Wallingford, Pennsylvania.

Marcelle says: This course offers an opportunity to open more fully to God. We’ll learn practices for sensing the movement of the Spirit, clarifying discernment, responding with faith, and encouraging faithful action. We’ll engage in the Faithfulness Group process, a practice which can provide ongoing support for a Spirit-led life. The rhythm of our days will include silence, prayer, time in nature, small groups, study of short Quaker texts, inspiring stories of early and contemporary Quakers, and sharing from the heart. There will be extended time for worship together and the opportunity to bless each other’s next steps in faithfulness.

See registration information on the events page. Learn more about Marcelle’s work, and this course, at her blog site, A Whole Heart.

Marcelle Martin and Laura Ruth November of 2018; Laura will be joining the group with Marcelle,
as her spiritual companion in the Quaker tradition, at the Nurturing Faithfulness retreat at Pendle Hill.

posted April 5, 2018 by Laura Ruth

Marcelle Martin, a member of Swarthmore Friends Meeting (PA), is the author of Our Life is Love: the Quaker Spiritual Journey. She leads workshops at retreat centers and Quaker meetings across the country. Currently she’s the core teacher for the 9-month Nurturing Worship, Faith & Faithfulness program at Woolman Hill. She was the resident Quaker Studies teacher at Pendle Hill for four years and has written two Pendle Hill pamphlets, Invitation to a Deeper Communion and Holding One Another in the Light.

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2 thoughts on “The Meeting of Wisdom and Quaker Mysticism Revisited: On the Eve of an Offering by Quaker Teacher Marcelle Martin

  1. Thank you Tom! I find this meeting of Quakerism with the Christian Wisdom stream (with its Sufi, Teihard, Gurdjieff flavor) very exciting as well. I would direct you to take a look at Cynthia’s blog piece of February 26 of this year, “Whur we come from…” It speaks both directly and currently to Cynthia’s particular lineage in the Wisdom tradition. It is on the home page right now, or click on Blog to scroll down and find it shortly.

    It is also always fun to send in a question via the “Ask Cynthia” page on this website. You will find a link there on the home page as well as at the top of the page here. Thanks so much for being in touch about this. With love, Laura

  2. Hi, I am a Quaker and have participated in an interfaith spirituality course in which Cynthia was the Christian teacher. Connecting her awisdom tradition with Quakerism is a very exciting development! It can help both traditions contribute to the healing of our times and nudge us forward towards Teillard’s Omega point! I would like to have in my pocket a paragraph or two that summarizes Cynthia’s Wisdom School philosophy/theology. Is it the perennial philosophy plus? How would she word this?
    Thank you and blessings on this work!

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