Blake seeks to provide the Golden String which can lead us through the labyrinth of our experience or his own poetry.

Monday, March 21, 2011


The biblical story of Mary and Martha presents two sisters who view life differently. Martha is the efficient housekeeper whose goal is to provide material comforts for her family and guests. When Jesus visits her and her sister Mary and her brother Lazarus, Martha has many duties in the kitchen and in serving her honored friend. Her sister Mary wishes only to enjoy Jesus' presence. Mary express the spiritual nature which can focus all its attention on things of the spirit neglecting outer interests and circumstances. Jesus accepted each sister for what she was and what she offered him. Martha could not recognize Mary's gifts; she wanted her sister to serve in the same way she herself did.

Luke 10
[38] Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house.
[39] And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word.
[40] But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me.
[41] And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things:
[42] But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.

Martha's complaint to Jesus that she was left alone to serve provoked Jesus' reply that, "Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her." Jesus like Blake valued the spiritual nature which often went unexpressed while the material world absorbed the total attention.

Mary sits at Jesus' feet and meditates on his words while Martha holds a serving tray and questions Jesus' reaction to Mary's behavior. Blake, himself, was inclined to neglect worldly things when he heard the voice of prophetic imagination. I have no evidence that Jesus neglected worldly things but his mother and brothers may have thought he neglected family duties. (Mark 3: 31-34)

People who embark on the journey of psychological development often find themselves in a similar situation. Friends or family may resent the time and effort that is spent by an individual in looking inward to discern the dimensions and dynamics of the psyche.

When Blake was living at Felpham he was especially aware of the conflict between fulfilling the outer requirements of pleasing others and earning a living, and the inner requirement of living under the direction of his 'Messengers from Heaven'. It was impossible for Blake to reject the demands of the spirit in favor of 'Natural Fears or Natural Desires'. He resolved his conflict by determining to 'go on again with my Task Fearless' and forgo worldly wealth and success.

Letters, 24, Mr Butts, (E 424)
"I find on all hands great objections to my doing any thing but the meer
drudgery of business & intimations that if I do not confine
myself to this I shall not live. this has always pursud me. You
will understand by this the source of all my uneasiness This from
Johnson & Fuseli brought me down here & this from Mr H will
bring me back again for that I cannot live without doing my duty
to lay up treasures in heaven is Certain & Determined & to this I
have long made up my mind & why this should be made an objection
to Me while Drunkenness Lewdness Gluttony & even Idleness itself
does not hurt other men let Satan himself Explain--The Thing I
have most at Heart! more than life or all that seems to make life
comfortable without. Is the Interest of True Religion & Science
& whenever any thing appears to affect that Interest. (Especially
if I myself omit any duty to my [self] as a
Soldier of Christ) It gives me the greatest of torments, I am not
ashamed afraid or averse to tell You what Ought to be Told. That
I am under the direction of Messengers from Heaven Daily &
Nightly but the nature of such things is not as some suppose.
without trouble or care. Temptations are on the right hand &
left behind the sea of time & space roars & follows swiftly he
who keeps not right onward is lost & if our footsteps slide in
clay how can we do otherwise than fear & tremble. but I should
not have troubled You with this account of my spiritual state
unless it had been necessary in explaining the actual cause of my
uneasiness into which you are so kind as to Enquire for I never
obtrude such things on others unless questiond & then I never
disguise the truth--But if we fear to do the dictates of our
Angels & tremble at the Tasks set before us. if we refuse to do
Spiritual Acts. because of Natural Fears or Natural Desires! Who
can describe the dismal torments of such a state!--I too well
remember the Threats I heard!--If you who are organized by Divine
Providence for Spiritual communion. Refuse & bury your Talent in
the Earth even tho you should want Natural Bread. Sorrow &
Desperation pursues you thro life!"

In the wilderness Jesus too was tempted by Satan with success and power in the world and choose the course of following spiritual direction.

1 comment:

  1. Just passin thru... Have a thought on Mary and Martha too... Hope you can view my blog poems and short storys... I am not a Quaker but have three Quaker friends... one from school here in the uk... Also a lovely couple who I stayed with in Westchester..,They have now moved to a community in Gwyned PA... They have been to vist us too....
    Blessings form across the pond...we have a spring day today PTL....