Fri., July 22, 2016
Luke 10:41-42: “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
I have struggled with the story of sisters Martha and Mary for years. While at their house, Mary sits at Jesus’ feet and hangs onto every word he teaches. Meanwhile, Martha is stewing in the kitchen. She’s preparing the meal, getting the table set, making sure everyone’s dirty and stinky feet have been cleaned. Finally, exasperated, she asks Jesus to tell Mary to come and help her. Jesus’ response shocks Martha: “Martha, Martha, don’t you see Mary has chosen the better way?”
It’s the classic struggle between doing and being. I’ve spent the majority of my life doing. Being isn’t very natural for me. The to-do list is always more important than practicing the things I talk about on Sunday mornings. I’ve constantly a recovering do-aholic.
Last Saturday, I attended the funeral for a 43-year-old woman. Someone several years younger than I am. She didn’t take her life. For some reason, she died. As I sat in the service, I had this overwhelming feeling that it had been too long since I’d been in a service where I just sat and worshiped. All the doing caught up with me. Nothing like a little mortality to get a person thinking.
I had previously blocked off a few days this week to regroup. I call this time “Study Break.” It’s a time when I get away all by myself to listen for God, pray, read, reflect and reconnect with God. Pretty awful when a pastor needs time away to do these things, right? But I do.
It’s been a few years since I’ve had a study break. My desired spot is a little cabin just outside of Trego, WI. It’s in the north woods and owned by the person who has been my friend the longest. Pam and I grew up going to the same church. Our parents have been friends for years. We went to Sunday School, VBS, confirmation and a whole bunch of other things together. Years ago, Pam made her cabin available to me. It’s become a place of respite for me.
Since it’s been a few years since I’d been to Trego, things had changed:
- Cell phone service is much better. Getting the internet is still sketchy. I go to the Spooner Library for this.
- Pam and her husband Bob have made some changes to the cabin: a new steel red roof and a handsome deck on the back.
- I try to find a balance while there taking care of myself (eating well and exercise), work and quiet and reflection time. I’m not in as good of physical shape as previous years. I used to run every morning and bike every night. This time, I didn’t even bring my bike and chose to kayak the Namekagon instead. I still ran and hiked my favorite trails. Time away includes recommitting to taking better care of myself.
Time here allows me to slow down and not miss things. Hundreds of deer grazing at dusk. Multiple families of ducks gathered to eat. Or maybe it is mating season? I’m not sure. Seeing how recent hard rains have affected the local area.
Every time I leave Trego, I promise myself I will be more attentive to creating space to be and not just do when I’m home. Unfortunately, this usually only lasts a few days. Again, I’ve made this promise to myself. Years ago, I attended the funeral for my parent’s neighbor, Helen. The pastor talked about how Helen had achieved a rare balance of Martha and Mary in her life. She knew how to sit and leisurely have a cup of coffee. Of course, there were plenty of cookies in the freezer to go with the coffee. I struggle with this and probably will for a long time. This is why time in Trego, or wherever your respite maybe, is so important.
At times, our to-do lists seem insurmountable. How can we ever get it all done? Thank you for giving us examples of people, like Mary, who seemingly understood that life is more than doing but also being. Help me create time and space in my life to simply be with you. Amen.
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