Maril Crabtree, Kansas City, MO
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To describe my spiritual journey in a few words is a daunting task. Nevertheless, there are themes. There are a few stepping-stones along the way that gleam in the fog of the past six decades.
One is justice. Having spent my childhood in Memphis and New Orleans, I came to adulthood with a firsthand knowledge of the injustice of segregation and the tumultuous efforts to gain civil rights. Add to that the struggle to gain equal rights for women and you have the pattern of fighting injustice that wove itself throughout my childhood and early adulthood.
It wasn’t until my 40’s that I began to appreciate the necessity to temper justice with compassion, with love. As a leader in my faith community I was called to work with the poor and saw the way poverty stripped people of more than their resources – it often left them without dignity, without hope, without a basic human identity. Poverty called for addressing the injustices of inadequate social structures but also called for taking care of basic needs. The parable of “The Good Samaritan” took on flesh-and-blood meaning and became my pole star.
Now, in my 60’s, often my personal spiritual struggle is to reconcile the two great impulses that formed most of the world’s great religions: the need for justice and the need for compassion. I’ve found that even beyond the metaphor of being two sides of the same coin, there can be no justice without compassion, and compassion without justice is ineffectual. The great moral and ethical issues of the day – gay rights, the treatment of prisoners accused of terrorism, health care for all, to name a few – illuminate the ongoing need on a global basis to find a balance that results in a more just and more compassionate world.
Through it all there is surrender to what is beyond my own ken, to what some would call “Spirit.” Aspects of this surrender are the subject of my first post here. With surrender, I recognize and acknowledge my own stubborn resistance, while also seeking truths that often elude me.
Surrender to “old age” looms. Above all, I am thankful for the opportunity to see what’s next.