I have spent an unGodly amount of time this morning, drooling, envying, and generally panicking at the comparative state of my own home. For instance, feast your anxieties on these…
There went two hours on the internet.
And here’s me,
But seriously, how often do you feel drawn into the vortex of ideals and expectations and demands (your own as well as the ones we ingest by the milipixel on every device around us) that you can hardly see straight? (Or is that just the internet eye strain?)
(And yes, these images are all from my morning Pinterest feed.)
And then, a chance visit to facebook sends me a surprising reminder through some of my friends’ status updates (normally not the most reliable source of mental nourishment)…
“Happy Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus!”
And here He is again.
Knocking, rapping, oh-so-gently on the door of my frantic little mind. And inside–a once-humble dwelling-place that has recently acquired ridiculous fortifications in the form of jealousies, anxieties, and all manner of vanities–I realize a scene is taking place.
Remember this one?
“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.”
Take a moment, scroll back up again and read that quote again. Look into their faces: Martha, standing above them all, always on her feet, moving, working, panicking, face full of frustration and entirely lacking love, patience, true self-gift … Mary, looking up at them both like a loving child, learning more about each of them with every word and deepening her love for both … and Our Savior, welcoming both of them into the circle of his attention with his open-armed stance, reaching out with gentleness and truth to teach each in the way she can be taught, to bring each closer to His own dear heart. His body posture is exact, almost aloof, a mark of his Self-sufficiency, yet his every limb is reaching out, up, down, toward the children welcoming him (graciously, wholeheartedly, or less-so) into their home. Reaching out to lead them into His home, when the time should come for his great Passion, to welcome them into his Kingdom with His Heavenly Father, and the Spirit of Love.
Double-sigh. Okay, now scroll back up to the picture of the Sacred Heart again.
This is the face of Love.
This is all that you need.
Daily, hourly, breath-by-breath, I need to remind myself of that. I am a young mother of two little toddlers, a convert to Christianity and Catholicism trying to figure out how to have a Christ-filled home (and one that stays together), while earning a Ph.D. in Literature on the side and supporting my husband as he searches his heart and the world to find his vocation within it.
What was that St. Paul said?
An unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord. But a married man is anxious about the things of the world, how he may please his wife, and he is divided. An unmarried woman or a virgin is anxious about the things of the Lord, so that she may be holy in both body and spirit. A married woman, on the other hand, is anxious about the things of the world (1 Cor. 7: 32-4)
…And she is divided. How divided I feel, all the time. Husband, children; children, schoolwork; husband, self; self, Lord.
We laugh at St. Paul’s stodgy-seeming advice:
So then, the one who marries his virgin does well; the one who does not marry her will do better. (38)
But how can we fault his logic? I feel it every day. I haven’t been able to sit down and pray — to really devote my energies and wandering mind to the Lord — since the day I first felt those tiny, thrilling contractions. But the contractions grew, and grew, and now my house is filled with two adorable, maniacal, unconquerable little wild things I like to call my kids, and I haven’t paused to hear that still, small voice nearly as often as I need to to keep up with this houseful.
How do we raise these gifts from God, how do we use the world as those not using it fully, how do we engage in the beauty of God’s creation and the secondary creations we can form out of it without letting them sweep us away from the Creator who is the only source and summit of all Beauty? How do we live the live of Martha, while our hearts live like Mary?
This blog will be part of my attempt to answer these questions for my life. In Renaissance literature, they call this the “psychomachia” –you know, the little red guy on the left shoulder with a pitchfork and a tail, bickering with the winged guy on the right with a halo — the externalization of the interior struggle for all the world to see. (A.k.a., a blog.) Only in this case, there are two simply-dressed women on either shoulder — well, perhaps one is more simply dressed than the other — and in the center is Jesus speaking to me,
Martha, meet Mary. Mary, meet Martha. You have been given a part of each of these, and it is your cross in life to find Me in each.
I AM the better part, and I am in each of you.
Come, seek, and you shall find.
I do hope that this space can trace a fruitful path to seek Him in the vocation He has called me to. And I hope that it will also become the home of a small community here online, where others can join me and support me in turn, where we can voice our struggles, our concerns, and our graces and insights and hope. We are all called to live in this world as Marthas, in our own ways, and yet over and above all is our calling to come near to the heart of Christ, as Mary knew. Too often we become isolated from one another by the circumstances of our modern society, but we have a great need to stand together and share the joyful strife of our calling to be, not simply our natural selves, but more. Not only Martha, but a Marian Martha.
These days, there are a lot of temptations and snares to pride and despair — yes, Martha Stewart included — and not as many models for Christian womanhood. But Mary, the sister of Lazarus, is one of them, and Mary the Mother of God is the most wonderful of all, and in this space I will try to invite Mary’s own, pure heart into my simple, silly, selfish one.
Mother of us all, please show us how to love your dear Son. Show us how to invite Him into our hearts and lives, chaotic though they may be (and He may make them!), and teach us to cling to Him through every fear, joy, sorrow, and triumph.
As mothers and daughters, wives and virgins, let us cling to His promise,
“When a woman is in labor, she is in anguish because her hour has arrived; but when she has given birth to a child, she no longer remembers the pain because of her joy that a child has been born into the world.
“So you also are now in anguish. But I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you.”
May the mercy and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with each of you who find this blog.
Please keep me in your prayers as I will (when I manage them!) keep you in mine.