Friday, July 28, 2017

Camp Counselors and Feast Days

It has been interesting to host the camp counselors in this week between the feast day that celebrates Mary Magdalene (July 22) and the one that celebrates Martha, the sister of Mary, the one who is most famous for doing the chores and being angry at Jesus for not making her sister help (July 29).

Like Martha, I, too, want to get the chores done.  This week I've forced myself not to worry about the dirty dishes and to focus on the conversations that lasted after dinner.  I've hoped that they didn't notice the dust that has accumulated on most of the flat surfaces of my house and the floors that need a sweeping.

Like Mary M., I'm haunted by demons:  the ones that whisper that I'm a slattern of a housekeeper, the ones that criticize my weight and my hair, the ones that wonder why I'm not living up to my full potential.  It's been interesting to observe my demons whip themselves into high gear, just because we've had camp counselors here to visit.

Part of me thinks that if I didn't have so much else to do, it would be an easier week:  there's work, and a conference I'm attending this week, and the shopping that the cooking requires.

It’s in the life of Mary Magdalene that I get a hint of what I need to do to diminish my modern demons of anxiety and busyness and hurry, hurry, hurry. Go back to the Easter morning story in the Gospel of John. It's Mary who stays behind to grieve, while the male disciples are running off to do whatever it is they feel compelled to do. It's because she stays behind to rest and to grieve that she gets to be the first to see the risen Lord.

Busyness is the demon that possesses many of us these days. It’s the way we prove that we’re important and indispensable. But in our busyness, we forget what's really crucial. We forget to focus on Christ. We forget to model our lives on Christ’s many examples of how to best live a life in a human body.
 Paradoxically, the story of Mary Magdalene reminds us not only to rest, but to stay alert. If Mary had used one of our modern ways to dull her grief, like drinking or sleeping or tackling the never-ending list of household chores, she might have missed the risen Jesus. But because she slows down to sit with her grief, to be fully present to her less comfortable emotions, she is also able to be fully present to the Divine who moves through the world.

Let us use these feast days to think about the many things that make us anxious. Let us resolve to follow the path of the Marys in the Gospels: Martha’s sister, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of Jesus. Let us resolve to watch for Jesus, and let us resolve to be fully present to the Divine.

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