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Being Mary during this Martha Season

Some readers might be familiar with Mary and Martha in the Bible. Two sisters of Jesus' acquaintance, Martha was all work and bustle, while Mary chose to sit at Jesus' feet and offered Him her presence. Martha asked Jesus to rebuke Mary for her inaction, for allowing Martha to hustle and care for Jesus and his disciples' needs for food and drink, while Mary simply sat, allowing herself to soak up Jesus' presence. Martha was surprised when Jesus replied that Mary had made the wiser choice (Luke:10:38-42).

As this holiday season commenced in earnest, I was struck uncomfortably by how little room for contemplation and writing there was in comparison to the past couple of months. It seems this month too easily is all action and scant reflection. This is a Martha month.

But I'm resisting this urge, as best I can: this push to go and do and drive and accomplish at the expense of presence, of wonder, of gratitude.

Our daughters will never be twelve and nine again. They will never experience this Christmas season in quite the same way again: in the way that only a twelve year-old and nine year-old can. I don't want to be a Martha to that. I want to be a Mary. I want to sit at their feet and see what they see. I want those eyes peeled wide to heaven come to earth, to the magical import of things easily overlooked: stars leading the way to redemption, lights that never burn out, love that never gives up.

So, my posts this month might be a bit sparse, as the frenetic pace of the season draws strenuously upon my time. While December will keep me more hectic perhaps than I like, I choose to not give myself over to it entirely. With the time that I can muster, I choose to rest in happy stillness with my husband and daughters or to spend time in quiet reading and enjoyment: noticing and appreciating. The words and the writing will come, but if writing this month only causes me to feel like a Martha, I'd rather sit this month out. Writing cannot be another item on a holiday "to-do list." I choose clarity over clutter.

Will you join me in practicing presence this month? It's a counter-cultural act of nonconformity,

maybe even of defiance. But it's worth it. Children know how to live in a moment. They know how to "Hold to the now, the here, through which all future plunges to the past" (James Joyce, Ulysses). They don't understand what all the rush is about: sometimes maddeningly so. But how beautiful. And how right. This season, I want more of that. Will you join me?

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