One Thing is Necessary

He was making his way to the big city with stops here and there,
people hurting, in need, he saw, poverty the rule,
the scent of Rome’s oppressive power
always in the dusty air,
choking him to anger,
the pretensions of the Jewish leadership as bad
in some way, an imperial tool
making a virtue of hypocrisy, but now
some rest, a few hours with friends, Mary at his feet,
listening, absorbing all she can.
Martha, the sister, distressed, pleads for Mary’s help
in the kitchen, with a dinner to prepare.
But today, this hour, Mary is where she needs to be,
not in the kitchen but with him,
wholly present.
In the work-a-day world of pots and pans, clatter and chatter,
the pressure on, with many things to do,
only one thing is necessary, he says,
just one:
To be. Not to do but to be,
in the moment, neither looking back or forward,
totally present, intent on catching
every word.


Endnote: the above is based on an episode from the gospel of Luke 10: 38-42 .There is both Martha and Mary in all of us. As an innkeeper and baker my sympathy is with Martha. There are simply things that have to get done when you have company in your home, particularly when its a special friend like Jesus who is heading for trouble in Jerusalem. Mary’s action is highlighted, we have to think, because its the part of us, like Martha, that we most neglect and most need. Living in the moment i.e. living a life which includes still-time, being free of distraction and present in faith, trusting and listening, a critical aspect of Jesus’ modeling and teaching. often in short supply, particularly in our institutional life.

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