Monday, April 10, 2006

martha and mary, installment three

(See Installment One here, and Installment Two here)

In exasperation, she blurted out what she assumed to be obvious— “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” The plea in her voice was unmistakable—surely he would help her. Surely would jump to his feet and make things right. Surely he would appreciate all that she had done. But he didn’t move. She stared at him bug-eyed, breathless from her outburst, and tried desperately to read the look in his eyes.

“Martha,” he began. “Oh, Martha…”

The tone in his voice stung with its sweetness. She had not expected sweetness—she had expected anger. Indignation. She had expected rebuke. But the look in his eyes—what the look revealed caused her to draw in a startled breath and grasp the doorframe behind her. It was not anger. It was not indignation. It was pity. Pity. She was thoroughly confused before he even began to address her.

“My dear Martha,” he answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed.” Things began moving in slow motion, his words coming in slow motion, her thoughts forming in slow motion. Only one thing is needed? “Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Mary had chosen what is better? What?!?!

It was inexplicable to Martha how the blood could drain from one’s head at the same time one’s face flushed with heat as if on fire. In front of our guests… oh, Lord… how could he? He paused for a moment, as if waiting for her response. Martha remained frozen, mortified, the red of her neck deepening to near purple. She looked down, then back up again, as if hoping they had all disappeared. Her sister regarded her, puzzled and hurt, and she could not even look at the others for fear of their familiar scorn. “I’m sorry, my Lord. Please excuse the interruption.” She backed away through the steadying doorframe, looking up just long enough to catch the sadness of his expression as he lingered on her face before turning back to the others.

She turned and fled to the kitchen—once her confining cell, now her refuge. Tears, a betrayal of her pride, came like a torrent and she smeared away their presence in Pride’s defense. Lazarus came and stood, tentatively, in the doorway, a worried look out of place on his young, peaceful face. I do not need your help—be gone, she hurled, wounding him in her self-pitying fit.

Storm clouds gathered in her mind—huge, threatening skies bore down upon her countenance. You are worried and upset about many things. Flash! Kaboom! Mary has chosen what is better. Flash! Mary has chosen what is better. Kaboom! Mary has chosen what is better. KABOOM!!! She was drenched in the downpour of emotion, tossed about by high winds of confusion threatening to uproot her.

She had expected a rebuke, and it had come—but to rebuke HER? What had she done wrong? How was that fair? She was only doing what needed to be done! How were they to eat, hungry as they certainly were from their travels, if she chose to saddle up next to Mary and listen to him go on and on about things that made no sense to her? The least will be the greatest? Has she not been the least? She deserved some help! She deserved some appreciation! Some acknowledgement! And he REBUKED her!?!?

She began heaving dishes out from the oven, slamming them down on the table—hot and steaming, she and they alike. Only one thing is needed…you are upset and worried about many things…only one thing is needed. What on earth did he mean by that? Of course she was worried! She had a household to maintain and no family to help when times were tight and the land unyeilding. She had property to protect, with neighbors encroaching upon her boarders daily, pressing in, taking more that did not belong to them, and she, helpless to do anything about it. And there were certainly no suitors—not after her parents died and her uncles absconded her dowry, Mary’s as well. There was nothing. No one. No one else was going to take care of them. Of course she was worried!

And, truth be told, she was angry! Angry over broken engagements, deathbed swindling, pitying townsfolk with their superior, married attitudes. Angry for the burden she bore as a child of fifteen, some twenty or more years ago—still bears, daily, to this very day, with not an ounce of help or appreciation from anyone. Angry with the Lord for taking her parents. Angry with her uncles for taking their inheritance. Angry with her betrothed for taking her heart and reputation. Yes, she was worried and upset about a great many things. A great many, indeed! Who could blame her?

How could he blame her?

(To be continued)


deb brannan said...

oh yes!! i so understand her! tell us more! what's next? does Jesus come to kitchen? does He say anything more to her? does He hold her, rescue her from this pit?? where is her thinking wrong when it's all so right?!

lorie said...

Hey Deb! I'm trying to answer those questions, myself! Hopefully they will come soon, and I'll finish this!