As I enjoyed the hard-won leisure of my favorite coffee spot this morning, and wrote in my journal (yes, paper and pen, imagine!) for the first time in ten days, it was easy to focus on all the positives in life right now. My summer schedule is falling into a good rhythm, one I think I can maintain and which will keep me productive even through the dog days when it’s often easy to slump in my chair and read a book to the exclusion of any other activity. I have a good balance of people time and alone time, physical exercise, creative time (in theory up to 12 hours a week), ministry work. So far, so good.
Except that so far, all this is doing. None of it is being. The thing I seem to have dropped somewhere along the way is the quiet contemplative me, who loved to sit with Bible and quiet music, praying, reading, listening. For many years I thought of myself as a Mary (OK, when the boys were toddlers I was probably a Mary wanna-be). But now the brain buzzes along with excitement, I absorb, I make notes, I pay bills, play the piano, pull a weed, teach a lesson, drive a niece to school…and it’s all good. But it’s so…busy.
Since when did Mary grow up to be Martha? I thought the Marthas of the world all secretly wanted to be Mary. Mary didn’t have aspirations to become her sister, did she? She chose what was best, what IS best. So what happened to me?
I wonder if there is a natural progression involved here, and not necessarily a bad one: faith without works is dead, if James is right (and I assume he is). The listening time presumably results in hearing God. What do we hear? Not just theorizing or heavenly poetry, surely. At some point I surmise that Mary got up and joined the Lord in His work, the work God had prepared for her to do. But she didn’t stop listening in the process.
Have I stopped listening? Probably not altogether. Certainly not. But it’s so easy to lose the balance, and that’s what needs restoring now. Like as not, in the process of my journaling this morning, God spoke. He can reach me any way He wants, not just through the media I expect. I simply need, once more as so often in the past, to practice His moment-by-moment presence. I’m perennially baffled by why this is so hard for me to do on a consistent basis. But if Mary and Martha are to peacefully coexist, it’s not just a good idea, it’s a mandate.
Which side of the fence do you land on more often, the hearer (Mary) or the doer (Martha)? Does anyone else struggle to keep these two sides in equilibrium?