Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Mary and Martha

First, let me say that if you are reading this on Wednesday: Congratulations! Wednesday, February 29 is a total bonus day. This calendar fudge factor only comes every four years. Seems to me like it’s kind of a “non day” and should be a day of freebies. Like, maybe Starbucks should dish out coffee for free today, dontcha think? Or maybe cops could refrain from handing out speeding tickets. It’s not really a REAL day, you know? It’s kind of a fake day or a “not really serious here, just a footnote” kind of day. It doesn’t come around often enough to get its own food like July 4th gets hot dogs or Thanksgiving gets turkey. So to me that doesn’t make it a real day. My motto is always, “If I don’t get any cool food, you don’t get a day.”

Here’s an idea: You might do a random act of kindness. See this guy’s blog for ideas. I’m kind of thinking that if you do a RAOK you might qualify for ice cream. That could be your holiday food.

Anyway….

I went to our annual Women’s Retreat last weekend at Camp Gilmont and just had me a fine old time.


We feasted on some of the best camp food I’ve ever eaten. Wait, it was the best. I just had to stop and remember some of the food at other camps. Yeah, it is the best. We had pecan-crusted tilapia for one meal, pot roast for another. For breakfast we had home-made cranberry muffins one day and homemade cinnamon rolls for another. And for lunch we got tomato basil soup and a great chicken salad. Yeah. You don’t always get food like this at church camp.

Then, at the other end of the dining hall we set up two tables for snacks. Because you know there’s always the danger that we could starve to death in two days’ time.

Do I talk about food too much?

Seventy women from about six churches came. We  saw old friends we've known for years and met new ones.

We've started a new club:  The Janes  Now all the women named Linda are jealous and want their own club.
The weather was perfect. We had hikes in the woods. Canoeing. Massages. (Our retreat is famous for this.) We pretty much kept a fantastic fire going in the great stone fireplace of the new main lodge. There were lots of laughs and time to catch up with chicks we don’t see enough of. Some of the women bring their best friends who either live out of town or have become Methodists or committed similar indiscretions.

In the midst of all this we took some time to study Mary and Martha. I used to have trouble remembering which sister was Martha and which Mary. Then one day I realized how much Martha is like Martha Stewart and that was a big help.

So, Martha is the busy one and Mary the studious one. Martha stayed busy cooking and cleaning for Jesus’ visit while Mary spent her time hanging on to Jesus’ every word. And Jesus sounds like he would rather for us to listen to his words than clean the house. This is my kind of guy. I knew there was a reason I like him.

But our study also reminded me of one Sunday morning years ago when Emily was about eight years old. I was running around the house in my usual tizzy, screaming for everyone to get ready for church while I grabbed up papers, car keys and purse, trying to remember all the extra duties I had signed myself up for that week. It was always something when the kids were little. Either I was teaching a Sunday School class or going to a committee meeting. But it was also all the normal distractions I was used to and could handle well. So I never gave it another thought. Busy hands are honest hands. Or so I thought.

We pulled up in the parking lot at church and got ready to exit the car. I turned around to bark the most current set of instructions to the girls and stopped mid-sentence. My eight year old sat there in the back seat wearing a mink coat.

It was the one I inherited from my mother that I never wore because mink had fallen out of favor and everybody knows that it never gets that cold in Texas. But I couldn’t get rid of it because I just knew that someday it would return to fashion or get cold enough. But that was not the point. It was a fancy coat designed to fit an adult, not an eight-year-old.

My mind slowed down to process the reality in front of me. Or, rather, in the back seat of my car. How could I have gotten her in the car, driven ten miles to church and never noticed she was wearing a mink coat? There was no denying the fact that I had not been paying much attention to my child.

I was having a Martha Moment in the middle of a Mary Morning.

Jesus was quite clear that studying His message is more important than cleaning or cooking. Jesus sounded like he would rather us hang around him instead of in the kitchen. And I just had to admit that Jesus may have also thought it was more important for me to pay attention to my child instead of making sure we were on time to church.

Lately, I’ve found my answer to the question of what I would do if I could get a “Do Over” in my life. My Do Over would be to tone down the busy-ness of my life when my kids were young. I would spend more time with them. This includes the time I was the Girl Scout leader or their Sunday School teacher or the Acolyte sponsor. It turns out you don’t get to be a mom when you do all that stuff. I’m only now realizing this.

Retreats are important. We are called away from the hustle and bustle once in a while to just sit with God’s words in a quiet, relaxing setting. Notice Jesus didn’t suggest that Mary write an analysis of what he said nor was there a test after he finished talking. He didn't even tell her to go out and tell other people what he said.  All Jesus asked of Mary was to listen. The rest can come later.

2 comments:

Barbara said...

Thank you, Jane, for that excellent description of the retreat. I want to mention that so many comments were made about learning to say “no” that I started wondering how we as a church were going to get anyone to say “yes.” Fortunately, in her excellent sermon during Sunday’s worship service Traci reminded us that after Mary listened at the feet of Jesus she would be called to put his Gospel into action.

VLB said...

I so miss the wonderful FPC retreats...I really am going to have put it on my agenda again some year very soon.