Some, when discovering a sacred moment remove their shoes and soak it up,others put on their boots and do up all the laces – and complain that the room smells of stinky feet.
The irony is they are both right, who says a sacred moment doesn’t smell like feet.
If given the choice, which person would you want to be? Someone capable of much- but annoyed when slowed down by those wanting to stop and smell the roses. Or someone who doesn’t seem to get as much accomplished, because you stop to enjoy the scenery.
One is a Mary and the other is a Martha. When Jesus goes to Mary and Martha’s for a visit it is interesting how different these two sisters are. One is surfing Pinterest to make the meal perfect while the other is sitting on the rug immersed in Jesus’ stories. Being a Man-Martha I am already annoyed with Mary. What is rather revealing is what Martha says to Jesus -”Don’t you care that Mary has left me to do all the work?” Jesus does well to not answer the question directly, because there is no correct answer. Of course he cares, but ‘Mary hasn’t left you…she just couldn’t keep up and choice differently’.
I imagine Martha’s thinking that if it wasn’t for me, Mary wouldn’t have a house to sit and do nothing in. Martha’s thinking if it wasn’t for me they both would be finding a falafel takeout joint this evening. I am sure she was slamming cupboards and smashing plates….notice me and my efforts.
In time, Jesus would notice her efforts as they sit and eat together. But Martha can’t wait till then. Interestingly, she could have expressed herself in a completely different way that doesn’t throw her sister under the bus. She could have say “hey Jesus, I want to hear these stories too, (in fact your going to have to repeat the one about you scaring the crap out of the disciples on the water-I only got half of it..).” But I don’t know that the issue is that she wants to spend more time with Jesus, or if she just wants to be noticed.
Martha blames others for the choices she makes. In her mind this evening isn’t turning out how she imagined. She is trying to do too much, even Jesus says, ‘one thing is all thats necessary, but your busy with so many’. We often blame others for our choices. Heres a lesson, when you talk to God-never remind him how disappointing other people are. It isn’t that what Martha has chosen to do is a bad thing-both have actually chosen to do good things. Mary recognizes a sacred moment that she needs, and has chosen what’s better for her. This Mary is the same woman who will later find her way into the home of a Religious leader and wash Jesus’ feet with her own tears and dry them with her hair to the shock of those present. Mary needs those moments. C.S. Lewis said:
The more a man feels without acting, the less he will ever be able to act, and in the long run, the less he will be able to feel.
Mary will not be guilty of not being able to feel. If anything she will be guilty of walking barefoot through life.*
There is a danger when we only live our life by obligations instead of intuitions. If we ignore or suppress the urge to cry during the Mormon TV commercials, eventually we won’t feel in other areas of our life. If we ignore those tugs at our heart because there are tugs at our wallet, eventually our heart will grow calloused and our wallet thick. But what does it profit us if we gain the whole world and lose our soul?
Mary knows that to be completely present, comes at the risk of being absent somewhere else. Life is about choices, we can’t do it all. Sometimes the choice isn’t between what is good or bad. The choices we often face are between what is good and what is better. Overtime is always good especially in a tough economy, but sometimes an evening with family is better. Sometimes upgrading is good, but learning to be content with less is always a better way to live.
Do we recognize what God is up to all around us? Are we tempted at times to remove our shoes because we recognize this moment, or this experience, or even this conversation with a friend is Holy Ground? Or are we more likely to wear our boots with the laces done up to the top and complain that the room smells like dirty feet?
*“Earth is crammed with heaven,
And every bush is aflame with God
But only those who see, take off their shoes
The rest sit around it and pluck blackberries.” – Elizabeth Browning