A Tribute To Martin Exeter, Celebrating The 100th Anniversary Of His Birth
There are many in this room who are blessed to have known Martin Exeter. I am sure, possibly by the sign of your nodding heads right now, that you experienced Father God’s love through him. I feel, in the time that I have this morning, I can just share a bit of the love that I experienced with him. While working with him, having fun with him, playing tennis or having dinner together, here was a man who came to reveal God’s love in his living. That is our job also. The things he did are ours to do now.
I think there is something for women and men to do in bringing Father God’s love. Martin planted seeds—I noticed in the song that was sung, seeds were mentioned. Seeds were planted in those of us who were with him, and then those of us who were with him were charged with the responsibility of planting those seeds in those who came after—the same seeds, by the way, all part of the one planting and the one harvest.
On the way into the Chapel, I stopped at the sculpture of the likeness of Martin’s head and face, and I touched it. I remember when it was shipped to us; an artist volunteered to do the sculpture. When I took it out of the crate and first showed it to Martin, he looked at it and said, “They got the nose right!” He called it his British nose. We placed it on the piano in what is now called the Mountain View Room. The worldwide Central Council was being held there. At the beginning of the Council, Martin got up and put his profile next to the head to show the British likeness, the British nose, as he called it. So he was full of fun, full of humor, full of adventure. I see this time of celebrating 100 years since his birth as part of that continuum.
This year is also seventy-seven years since Emissaries of Divine Light was birthed. I had an interest in sunspot cycles over a number of years and Martin had an interest in them as well.
I was able to get charts of sunspot cycles from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and found them to be useful. Sunspot cycles are of eleven-year duration and range from minimum activity in the number of sunspots to a maximum level of activity and intensity. It is interesting that Uranda provided a focus for EDL for twenty-two years, which is two sunspot cycles, and Martin for thirty-three years, which is three sunspot cycles (he went into the hospital in 1987). There is an interesting correlation to those eleven-year cycles. This year is the culmination of seven sunspot cycles since the inception of EDL. From an earth standpoint, tree rings are markedly smaller or larger each eleven years. Something changes on the planet. There is an intensification that happens from the sun, and it is either a time of drought or a time of plenty. There are other terrestrial effects as well, such as the impact on electrical power grids. NASA is keeping an eye on this as we reach sunspot maxima. When EDL was founded it was during a time when this country and the world were coming out of a depression amid economic collapse. It’s interesting that, seven sunspot cycles later, something similar is occurring.
Here is the context within which we celebrate Martin’s life and 100 years since his birth. The content that appears within that context is up to the people who are at hand now. These people can be called Emissaries. During one of my speaking tours, I went to England and stayed with a friend who was a British Army General. He founded an organization called Generals and Admirals for Peace and the Environment, with the precept that war devastates Mother Earth. He commented to me, “My dear Nick, you say you are an Emissary, but I have emissaries. I send them out with a message and with a mission. What is the message and mission of the Emissaries?” I answered, “Divine Light.” Emissaries of Divine Light. He then said, “Oh, now I understand!”
The word divine means “of God”; light, “to illuminate.” I noticed the word blessing in each of the songs sung this morning. I also notice that spiritually immature people concern themselves only with being blessed, rather than in giving blessing. Spiritually mature people are looking to bless. Martin was always a blessing to those around him. I feel the seeds he sowed in me are growing more today than ever. I’m sure many of you feel that. And I also feel there is more present today than ever. Don’t look just on the form. Look to the context within which we bring the blessing today. All that came before now unfolds into the present. I bring the blessing; you bring the blessing. One of the repeated Bible verses Martin cited was, “I will…pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” Those who are spiritually immature will say, “Oh, great, I’m going to get heaps of this! I’ll take a second helping.” But as spiritual maturity puts in an appearance, one sees those words as meaning “I will pour you out as the blessing.”
You cannot pour out a blessing and stay anonymous. This is not “Emissaries of Divine Light Anonymous”; those meetings were never held here. This is “Emissaries of Divine Light at Large,” with a message and a mission. It is not just the name of an organization. It is emissaries carrying that light of love, the Father’s love. Jesus said many years ago, “I have come to reveal the Father…. The Father and I are one.” That is no less the responsibility before us today.
As expressed through Martin, the Father’s love provides great mercy and a lot of grace. There is a difference between mercy and grace. Mercy is when you do not get all that you deserve, and grace is when you receive far more than what you deserve. That is the blessing and love he brought.
He saw opportunity in circumstances. I remember when cow manure was found in the Little Chapel. The landscaper at the time had stored bags of manure in the Little Chapel— the building that symbolizes the holiest place within us. That was ironic. He saw this circumstance as symbolic of the manure that needs to be released from human consciousness to make space for what is holy. He seized this opportunity to remodel the Little Chapel. We put a new roof on it, a cupola on the roof to let in life-giving air, lighting and heating, as well as stained-glass windows. This was symbolic of the holiest place within us now being habitable. How’s that for a context?
Martin had great faith in those who worked with him. He was willing to risk. In so doing, faith is spelled R-I-S-K. If you want to increase your faith you must take a risk by moving beyond complacent mediocrity into the expression of greatness. Being around Martin, you stayed lean and hungry. (There are a lot of smiles of agreement in the room.) Not complacent, not numb, but lean and hungry. Here is the invitation into that higher vibrational place: the holiest place within each of us.
Martin wrote a number of books; some of them were compilations of his talks. I had dinner with him as his newest book was being completed. During dinner, I asked him what the title was. He said he did not have one yet. At the time the movie Romancing the Stone was popular and the current service theme was on the “tone of life.” I jokingly said, “How about calling it Romancing the Tone?” He laughed and then in a moment came up with the title “Beyond Belief.” Maybe he was saying to me, “You’re beyond belief!”
We sang “The Tide of Life” this morning. The Rising Tide of Change was a global event that he initiated. It included people from around the world. In the years that followed there were more global events, such as Signs of the Times and A Gathering of Light. Each of these global events was larger and included many more people beyond the organization of EDL—Emissaries at large. Who do I declare myself to be? Who do you declare yourself to be? I think this was his question and invitation. Do you declare yourself to be anonymous or at large?
You know, King David was not the only one to slay a giant. Four more giants were slain after Goliath. The four people who slew the other giants were closely connected with King David and followed his lead. There is power in that connectedness. If you want to slay the giants keeping you imprisoned, align with giant slayers. Emissaries at large are giant slayers. They slay the giants of mediocrity, adversity and complacency in their own lives and are thereby set free to experience the holiest place within and express the spirit of God into their surroundings. I speak from the friendship I have known with Martin, the uncomfortable friendship, keeping me lean and uncomfortable and hungry.
One of Martin’s books is titled As of a Trumpet. There is mention of a trumpet in the Bible that stands out to me. It is in Matthew: “And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” (Matthew 24:31)
Perhaps this verse expresses, in part, both Martin’s great mission and the great message and mission of each Emissary of Divine Light.