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Posted on Sunday, April 16, 2006 at 09:54PM by Registered CommenterMarshall Massey in | Comments8 Comments

Every journal needs a proper beginning — and to begin this one aright, I should explain why this journal has the title it does.

In a Quaker context, “witness” might mean either of two things. It could mean religious witness: a speaking of the tremendous good news of the life of the Spirit, as that life and Spirit arise and are known among Friends. Or it could mean prophetic witness: confronting wrongdoers with clear and truthful messages.

“Earth” is less well defined. “Earth” might mean the landscape, or the soil underfoot, or exploitable real estate, or the vulnerable environment, or the spinning planet, or the deluded human world, or the global biosystem, or a spiritual entity. I’ve noticed that people often confuse these meanings, thinking of the earth in a way inappropriate to the situation at hand. When this happens, they can do great damage without intending to. (Perhaps you’ve noticed this, too.

So what does it mean to do “earthwitness”? Does it mean bearing witness in regard to something we aren’t seeing clearly or understanding rightly? Heaven forbid! To be true witness, it must begin by seeing the earth clearly. True earthwitness, then, is not likely to be an easy thing to do well.

A journal, friends, is the record of a journey. This journal, which begins today, will track an interweaving of two journeys: a physical journey over the earth, listening to it and interacting with it and seeking to know it rightly, and an interpersonal journey of listening to the religious and prophetic witness of Friends and others across the U.S.

Perhaps that sounds overly ambitious. But I’m about to be plunged into a situation in which I think it might even come naturally. For in the next few months, I expect to be engaged in an 1150-mile, eleven-and-a-half-week-long walk, eastward from my home in Omaha, Nebraska, to the meeting site of Baltimore Yearly Meeting of Friends (Quakers) in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Along the way, I’ll be visiting Friends churches and Friends meetings, asking their members questions and seeking to learn. I’ll have many long days, walking along at two and half miles an hour or so, in which I have nothing to do but attend to the earth and its creatures. And I’ll have many evenings in which I may have the chance to hear and learn from the witness of many different sorts of Friends.

There is a point of intersection, I believe, where the earth’s teaching, and the messages of Spirit-led human witnesses, meet and reinforce one another and become one larger thing. That is a point of intersection that greatly interests me. Whatever glimpses I may have of it, I hope to write about them here.

God willing, I’ll start my journey less than four weeks from today, on May 13, 2006.

ew tiny.pngI invite you to join me in dialogue along the way.

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Reader Comments (8)

Marshall, your faith in and obedience to God’s leading are inspirational. I also commend your monthly meeting clearness committee for their faithful support and oversight of this leading. Good fruits will certainly grow from such efforts

Thanks for setting up this journal, too. Being able to read it will enable those of us who cannot participate in your journey in person to still gain much from it. I’ll start by trying to be more aware of the nuances of the word “earth,” how I use it and how it is heard and used by others.

Blessings in Friendship,
Judy Erickson
member, Oak Park Monthly Meeting/Illinois Yearly Meeting

-- comment posted by Judy Erickson, Oak Park (IL) MM
April 17, 2006 at 10:04 a.m.
Sep 1, 2006 at 09:00PM | Registered CommenterMarshall Massey
Thank you Marshall for your willingness to risk being led into this journey.
For Friends who feel called to join you for a part of this walk, would you describe the best way to intersect with your route?
Peggy Dyson-Cobb

-- comment posted by Peggy Dyson-Cobb, Maury River (VA) FM
April 17, 2006 at 11:27 a.m.
Sep 1, 2006 at 09:05PM | Registered CommenterMarshall Massey

Well, Marshall, I was hoping to see some online writing from you in a more structured format, and here you are! Thanks so much for advancing the discussion and conversation on a good number of Quaker blogs. And also thank you for making your earthwitness-walk that much more “accessible” to us through this journal.

Liz, The Good Raised Up

-- comment posted by Liz Opp, The Good Raised Up
April 18, 2006 at 3:01 p.m.

Sep 1, 2006 at 09:08PM | Registered CommenterMarshall Massey

Hi Marshall,
Happy to see the blog and hear of your bipod ministry. I’m sure we’d all like to hear how this slo-mo traveling ministry serves as outreach!
Your Friend, Martin Kelley

-- comment posted by Martin Kelley, QuakerRanter.org
April 18, 2006 at 6:47 p.m.

Sep 1, 2006 at 09:12PM | Registered CommenterMarshall Massey

I first heard of your walk from Carl Magruder, who forwarded an email to our house a few months ago. I have apprecated reading your comments around the blogosphere lately, and look forward to reading your own posts here.

Robin M.
What Canst Thou Say?

-- comment posted by Robin M., What Canst Thou Say?
April 18, 2006 at 11:06 p.m.

Sep 1, 2006 at 09:13PM | Registered CommenterMarshall Massey

so good to hear from and of you, again.

God speed, Friend, and I look forward to following your journey.

-- comment posted by timothy travis, One Quaker Take
April 19, 2006 at 6:54 a.m.

Sep 1, 2006 at 09:15PM | Registered CommenterMarshall Massey

Friends, so good to hear from you all! I’ll try not to let all your kind words go to my head.

I’ve taken the time to restore the original formatting you gave your replies, which the blog software made rather a mess of.

Peggy, if anyone is wishing to meet up with me en route, the simplest way is to write me at my e-mail address, mmassey at earthwitness.org. We can work out the details from there.

-- posted by Marshall
April 21, 2006 at 10:57 p.m.

Sep 1, 2006 at 09:17PM | Registered CommenterMarshall Massey
Yet another (quite literal) interpretation of ‘walking in the Spirit’ :-) May you and the others you interact with along the way find this act uplifting. Yowie (Vicky)

-- posted by Yowie
April 25, 2006 at 11:39 p.m.
Sep 1, 2006 at 09:18PM | Registered CommenterMarshall Massey

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