Tuesday, February 26, 2008

LeeAnne: A little more Mary, a little less Martha

From LeeAnne Beres, Earth Ministry Executive Director:

Now as they went on their way, he [Jesus] entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42 (NRSV)

I don’t know about you, but every time I read this passage, I want to march right up to Mary and tell her to get to work. I’ve always identified with Martha, the one that sees what needs to be done and does it – and gets frustrated when others don’t see the same need and pitch in. If the Lord were to show up at my house, I know I’d be running around trying to make everything just perfect, and probably miss out on everything important He had to say.

My “break from busyness” this Lent has caused me to re-think my perspective on this story, and to put myself in Mary’s place. If I’m honest with myself, the root of my frustration with Mary may be that I secretly want to be her. Wouldn’t it be nice, just for once, to be the one seemingly without responsibilities who can take the time to sit and listen, rather than to always be the one making sure the tasks are done?

Jesus himself said that Mary had chosen the better part, yet like Martha, my self-imposed work ethic and standards of service prevent me from simply sitting and taking it all in. But no matter how much I get done, no matter what I accomplish, there’s always more to take its place. When I am constantly busy I make little time for God, thinking “I have to finish this one thing first”, but before I know it another day has passed and I still haven’t gotten to what I wanted to get things out of the way for in the first place.

Part of my Lenten practice is to work on being a little more Mary and a little less Martha in the coming weeks. I started last Saturday morning by sitting in the sun and reading/reflecting on this Bible passage, rather than launching right into the mountain of tasks that presented themselves around my house. The dirty laundry is still undone and the house didn’t get vacuumed, but amazingly enough, the world didn’t end and my place in it seems just a bit more grounded.

1 comment:

LeeAnne said...

PS-All of us at Earth Ministry wish Beth a Happy Birthday today! We'll be celebrating later with vegan German Chocolate Cake. Good thing none of us gave up sugar...