Feuding with Mary and Martha
This social distancing and Safer at home have conjured up in me an internal feud. I know this is what has to be, but it’s tough at times.
What am I supposed to be doing now? Believe it or not there was a time when I longed to be more like Mary, just having some time to rest at the feet of Jesus. I was even involved in a book study several years ago titled, “Having a Mary heart in a Martha world”. Well now it seems I’ve found myself in a Mary world wondering, “What should Martha be doing?”
I pulled out my Bible, so I could read this passage of Mary and Martha again, to see if I could gain any clear insights as to what it was I might be wrestling with. There it was in vs 40 “Martha was distracted with much”. I don’t think it matters if we are a Martha or Mary, distraction plays its part in what we are called to do and what we actually end up doing. At least for me it does. And especially now. So when Jesus responds to Martha with “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled with many things, one thing is needful and Mary has chosen the good portion.” I want to believe that what he meant was “Know your purpose”. What are you being called to at this moment in time?
So what is “my portion”? For me I think that it is this: awareness, combined with compassion which can equal a call to action. Compassion wells up in me when I watch the news and see both the sadness, and the good that is flooding the airways due to this recent health crisis. I am moved to tears with the pain and kindness shown by people all over our nation. Also, when I hear of friends and family losing jobs and struggling to keep small businesses open, my heart aches because we’ve experienced that too. I realize it’s okay to be Mary for a bit, sitting at the feet of Jesus, but then I need to get moving and become Martha; moving outside myself to do something.
So now when I pray, I ask God for direction into where He might need to use me today and then I work to be attuned to the people and needs that show up in my day instead of the agenda I’ve prepared for my day. I suppose it’s a somewhat safe prayer for me now, given what I can do is limited, however I have had opportunities to reach out; as well as opportunities to say thank you to those essential workers providing us with mail delivery, food and healthcare. I’ve been connected with family and friends through Z00M, FACETIME and strangers, with a wave or smile. So I guess for me at this place in time, I find myself praying these words: Jesus, take away the distraction that I may lean more closely into you like Mary so, the Martha in me will know what to do.
I can only hope that Jesus will respond and say, “Jodie you have chosen the good portion”.
Taste and See the Goodness of our God
You know how sometimes you wake up and you’ve got stuff already swirling in your mind and head. Well today the words and music of Psalm 34 were playing on rewind in mine. “Taste and see the goodness of our God the goodness of our God.” I even found myself saying under my breath “God please, I haven’t even had my coffee yet”. And then it hit me. “Taste and see the goodness of God”. I HAVE coffee this morning. Thank you, God. Looking outside, I could see the light of the morning and the song of a robin… Thank you, God. Later on, at one point I entered our kitchen and noticed immediately the “spotlight of sunshine” overtaking the centerpiece on our table… Thank you, God. This was what God was calling me to and reminding me of this morning; to be grateful in the midst of this uncertainty. I know we are smack dab in the middle of restrictions and struggles and stresses we have never before experienced, and yet God reminded me that God is God and always with us.
Commuting up the stairs to my home office space I pulled out one of my “go to” books for reflection, opened it and was drawn in to this invitation of prayer and I’d like to share it with you; perhaps you might want to use on your own, or with your family.
Ignatian spirituality is constantly calling out to me to notice the presence of God in everything and to seek the face of Jesus in each person I meet. I am able to begin my day in this mode and as the day progresses it can be a waning thought. Today I opened a notebook where I jot down things I want to remember (if I can remember where I placed the notebook) and low and behold I find that I’d written that “presence” is defined as all three centers awake at the same time: heart open, mind receptive and body aware. How absolutely true. But sometimes I’m not firing in all three centers.
So just how “awake” am I? Awake enough to know that in the last 2 days I’ve been bombarded with the following questions: “Where did you find Christ today, Where did you hear Christ’s call, How will you respond? “ And if that wasn’t enough there was Monday’s gospel of the calling of the 12 Disciples. Okay, I think I’m supposed to learn something.
Reading Monday’s gospel revealed a couple of thoughts I’ve continued to ponder. First Jesus went away to pray. Good for Jesus! I have a “to do list” of things to accomplish, but then I guess so did Jesus. After all there were people to heal and forgive and miracles to perform. So what does Jesus reveal to us in this act of taking time to pray? It’s his need as well as ours to remain connected to God. Where does our ability come from? Okay point taken.
Then there is the calling of the 12 disciples. This was a rather motley crew to say the least. The number 12 can represent the whole church when it is used in scripture. So Jesus isn’t just calling a selected few, he’s calling all of us. However, he didn’t wait to call them until they had their acts together he “called” them with their faults and failings and unchecked to do lists. He called these people from their boats, their fishing nets, their tax booths. So it is with us. What might Jesus be calling us from - to do? Their formation and transformation began because they lived “with” Jesus. They learned what it meant to live in love and service to and with one another. They learned what it meant to trust God and rely on God instead of just knowing about God. He’s vying for our attention now. Maybe they were searching or restless or were finally firing in all three centers. Whatever the case, they listened, heard and responded. Can we?
Coming together in community reveals Christ present in our midst and helps us to live with Jesus instead of just learning about Jesus. I hear wonderful examples through the ARISE Together in Christ small groups, of members from our parish becoming Christ present to one another by sharing hope when another expresses doubt; of compassion being shared when hurts are revealed. Recently when I was struggling to pray, a young man simply reminded me to invite God to this space and then invited me to pray aloud with him “Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit as it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be world without end”. Wow!…such a wonderful reminder. And, gathering together this past weekend with couples from our parish to honor and enrich our marriages blessed me in knowing that we are united in our joys and struggles and strengthened in our relationships with one another.
So as it says in Ephesians,
“Awake O Sleeper”….. And we might add, “that I might fire in all three centers”.