Over the last 35 years, My Husband, James, has been able to anticipate the frenzied activity which takes place in our home prior to any large family gathering. I can almost hear his mental groaning as the event approaches. Over the years, I’ve compiled a mental list of all the things that “must” be done in order to have a successful gathering. The furniture in every room must be dusted, fresh linens on all beds, bathrooms cleaned from top to bottom, carpets vacuumed, floors mopped, refrigerator cleaned out; the pantry has to be just so. Food has to be purchased and prepared to satisfy the taste buds of all those invited. You get the idea – by the time I’m through I’ve exhausted us both and have to remind myself why all this began in the first place.
Once many years ago, I’d been putting us through this crazed ritual. When Thanksgiving morning came, I woke with some illness I no longer remember. What I do remember is that I was incapacitated enough that I couldn’t prepare the meal. James and the rest of the clan were on their own. In my mind, I castigated myself for becoming ill and imagined what a disaster the day was going to be because I hadn’t attended to all the details.
The truth is the day wasn’t ruined at all. James and the rest of our family stepped up and prepared a wonderful feast. It turned out to be a very memorable holiday for me. I was able to sit back and watch all these people I loved work together – laughing and sharing memories along the way. I was able to listen and be present with them in a way I’d never allowed myself to be before.
In our Gospel this week, we hear the all familiar story of Martha and Mary. One is very busy with the details and obligations of preparing a feast while the other feasts at Jesus’ feet. I suspect there is a bit of both Martha and Mary in all of us (men as well) and we too can have trouble discerning just what to do. This story reminds us few things are truly needed and in this instance only one thing.