“Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at [a]Jesus’ feet and heard His word. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.”
41 And [b]Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. 42 But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”
This was one of those passages of scripture for me. Through which I heard God’s invitation to find another way. A quieter & a more restful way in myself, in my work, in life…
I don’t know about you, but I haven’t identified historically with Mary. Even though I have really wanted to. Her way of quietening down all that needed to get done, even temporarily and simply sit at Jesus’ feet. To attend to Him, to listen to Him. Not to serve Him, not to talk to Him. But to still herself simply to be with Him.
Martha on the other hand, I identify with all too readily! Her busyness, her service, her preoccupation with all that needs to get done, her frustration with her sister who’s just sitting there…
One way of interpreting this passage of scripture is to think of Mary & Martha as 2 sides or 2 parts of us. The doing part of us is like Martha. & the being part of us is like Mary. While Jesus goes on to speak about doing later in the passage, here He emphasises the importance of (Mary’s) being!
Most of us know how to do. The doing part of us is usually well trained & coached by cultures, family roles, gender roles, church traditions, to name a few. But the being part? How much training & coaching does the being part of us get? Usually not much…
There’s a stack of research that you have probably heard of on the compelling benefits of mindfulness. Most current psychological therapies emphasise the importance of learning mindfulness practices to support good mental health.
In staying with God’s invitation to “be”, I began to explore how to “be” in the context of my christian faith. What I have discovered are Christian contemplative practices that help with exactly this. We need to be taught to be (if we don’t naturally veer that way). It’s a skill. & It can be learned. & practiced. & when we do, it has such benefits for us!
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