I am by nature a “Martha.” I’m working on being more of a “Mary,” but I suspect Jesus would still scold me for being in a “doing” rather than a “being” mode too much of the time. I can just about imagine him saying “Sharron, Sharron, you are fretting and fussing about so many things; but one thing is necessary!”
For many years I felt guilty if I wasn’t engaged in some activity that I deemed “productive.” It might be grading essays, cleaning the kitchen, washing clothes, organizing the linen closet, or even counting sheep, anything that kept my mind and hands occupied in gainful activity. To sit and simply be present in the moment, or to take time to play games with family members, or to sit quietly with a cup of tea and a good book seemed so lavish and wasteful.
Sabbath was a foreign concept in my former life as a teacher. Oh, sure, I went to worship on Sundays and was active in church, but Sunday was a time for swim meets, getting things done in preparation for the week ahead, or more often than not, playing catch-up from the previous week’s work. God, however, has other ideas about making time for Sabbath.
After being called to ministry and studying scripture, I finally began to understand the importance of Sabbath keeping. God commanded us to keep the Sabbath for our good, not as some kind of punishment or one more rule to follow slavishly and begrudgingly. Don’t get me wrong; I didn’t suddenly and magically become good at resting and keeping periods of Sabbath. Oh, no. I just hid my Martha nature a little bit better. Well, actually I hid it from myself better than anyone else. Denial is a lovely river to paddle. See I couldn’t even float blissfully in my denial—I had to actually paddle and work at it. I’m still trying to be a better Sabbath-keeper, present moment liver, and relaxer. It is a process; I’m growing into it and appreciating it.
Now I celebrate time to relax and simply “be.” I am thankful for the opportunity to read a good book, revel in the beauty of the natural world, and play games with family members. I am thankful to linger a little longer in the morning with my husband over a cup of coffee and conversation. I take pleasure in walking the dogs and observing their joy and zest for living.
The funny thing is that I don’t really miss the “Martha” side of me that much. The dishes will wait patiently in the sink. The clothes don’t have to be washed on cue. So what if my linen closet is messier than I like? It almost seems silly now that I actually LOOKED for things to do with idle time.
I am finding more joy in prayer, study of scripture and theology, tending to important relationships, and trying to get adequate rest. Life is far more satisfying in the slow lane; in fact, I’ll take prairie path over super highway any day. How blessed I was this day to be able to sleep late, linger over good conversation and food, and play games. Now it’s time for a short nap followed by a family dinner and more good conversation.
Savor the moments, friends. Take time to appreciate the fact that you are alive and drawing breath. Cultivate and tend those precious relationships. Oh, and be sure to give thanks for time to relax and be a “Mary.” Martha can wait.
Photo by peretzpup used under Creative Commons License. Thanks!