Saturday, July 29, 2006

Martha, Martha!

No, that wasn't Cindy Brady yelling to her older sister. Today's the Feast of St. Martha, sister to Mary and Lazarus of Bethany. This is a well known and oft quoted story from the gospels, and Pope John Paul II gave it some great press in his letter Novo Millennio Ineunte at the dawn of the new millenium (check it out here). The lesson we learn is crucial to a full life, because it captures and cures that seeming dichotomy we all experience between work and play and sets it right. The quick answer to which position is preferrable? We were made for play. When Jesus comes to visit, Mary sits at his feet; wide-eyed, wonder-filled, doing nothing but gazing upon the Face of Jesus. She's already in Paradise! The Bryan Adams song comes to mind, "And love is all that I need and I found it there in your heart. It isn't too hard to see we're in heaven" (gotta love that song). Martha on the other hand is worried, anxious; "Oh the timing stinks! What if he needs to use the bathroom, I have to clean it up. He must be hungry. I should get a meal ready. There's dishes in the sink! I look like a mess! The house is a mess! Aaaaahhhhhhhh!" So Mary sits and Martha splits. (A seeming digression) - Yesterday, a powerful storm blew through the Philadelphia region, sweeping in from the west, guns blazing with wild abandon. Thunder, lightning, sheets of rain. I love a summer storm. I raced home just in time to unplug the computer (aka "my precioussss"), shut the windows, and set myself down on our back porch: wide-eyed, wonder-filled, doing nothing but gazing upon the face of the storm. The rain beat upon our metal awning like the arrows of orcs, the wind whipped and sprayed through the trees and around houses and up alleyways, curling and lashing out at me in my little watchtower. Bright bombs of lighting split the sky, and my heart started bouncing around in my chest like a hackey sack in the middle of a bunch of teenagers. It was awesome. I was planning on writing that afternoon, but the storm came to call. So I let go of an hour of "work" and gained a rich experience of "play" in its stead. There is so much more here to talk about, to reflect on. But the bottom line is this: our hearts are fitted more for contemplation than for keeping busy, for opening up and letting Guests in than for keeping them out until we're "ready." In a given day, how many guests come to call on us? Are we caught off guard? Why are we even on guard in the first place? Summer storms are a reminder of our own smallness and utter lack of control. Stuff gets wet and thrown around. We lose electricity, we get "inconvenienced." I think Our Lord likes to stir things up too; he likes to pop in unexpectedly, not to bother us but to be with us. That's what lovers do, they surprise each other. Today let's look for him, wide-eyed and wonder-filled in every encounter, and let's let him look at us.
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