The other day while I was out in the field bumping along on a tractor with the wind in my face and the scent of cut grass tickling my nose, I meditated. This is an excellent way to meditate–somehow when you are alone in a rolling field under a wide-open sky, soothed by the monotony of driving around and around, your mind finds itself able to think more clearly about life…
As I was saying, I was meditating. I was thinking about the story of Mary and Martha–when Jesus reprimanded Martha for asking if Mary could help in the kitchen. At least, that is what I always thought He was reprimanding her for. I was once discussing this story with another woman, and she couldn’t help but feel it was rather “like a man” (this phrase compliments of Miss Cornelia in Anne’s House of Dreams) for Him to take that stance. She wondered how He would have felt if Martha, like Mary, would have settled at His feet and no one would have made Him supper. I had always rather felt the same way–a little offended with Martha.
But I was reading a book the other day that was emphasizing how Jesus stated that one thing was necessary. Only one thing, and that thing was not one dish of food, or one action that saves.
Suddenly I realized that Jesus was not defending Mary at Martha’s expense. He was not even reprimanding Martha, as much as he was speaking out of kindness. “Martha,” He said, “you are anxious about many things. But only one thing is necessary. Coming near to me and sitting at my feet like your sister is doing.”
What if Jesus would have said, “Martha, you’re right. Mary, get up and help her in the kitchen. Spending time with me is definitely not the priority when my disciples and I are hungry”? Today, we would be entirely justified in our miserableness when we work so hard to serve well and perfectly, to make the mark, to be all things to all people. Today, it would still be necessary to believe firmly that there are many things to be anxious about, so many things that we have to get right in life if we are to be accepted by Jesus.
Jesus didn’t say that though. In His great kindness, He reminds us all that there is only one thing that is necessary–we can and will make mistakes and not meet all the needs around us and be so far less than perfect. We may break in our great humanity in a thousand pieces, or be blown around by the wind when the storm kicks up. After all, we are dust, and He knows that because He made us. He too was made of dust, but that dust was chosen to house God Himself. There is nothing shameful about being dust.
The only thing He asks of us is that we come to Him and sit at His feet. This is the only thing that is really essential in all this world of things that we worry about. He lived in our dust-storms and redeemed them for us. He can hold us together. He can mend us when we break. We cannot and will not be able to do that for ourselves or anyone else.
I wonder if Martha would have sat down at Jesus’ feet, if maybe Jesus would have eventually gotten up and helped her in the kitchen–“Why don’t we just have some frozen pizzas, Martha, and these baby carrots you have in the fridge? That will be just fine.”
I wrote a poem this morning–random thoughts and maybe difficult to follow. Here it is in all its dustiness:
THE DUST-CREATED HUMAN MUSES. THE DUST ARTIST SPEAKS TO CALM THE DUST STORM.
The Dust Storm
Is it just too much to ask? To be perfect?
To be slightly more than human, to be safe?
To be safe from human error?
To be safe from gripping terror?
To be everything I should be,
Everything I think I should be,
To be less than, to be more than,
To be someone else other than
This same dusty human I am…
Is that a wish too large to ask?
The Wind Dies
You say I cannot add even a cubit to my stature
So I shrink in all my shortness, filled with fear.
You see, the giants they are large around me here.
You say you see me and remember I am dust.
I believe you, and I settle on the ground.
The next wind-storm will kick me up all around…
He Speaks As It Grows Quiet
“There’s something I would say to you, my friend.”
Master speak, I’ll try to listen,
But my ears are full of dust…
“You’re anxious how these many things may end.”
So I am, Lord, I’m distracted,
I would serve you well or bust!
“But that really isn’t necessary, friend…”
Dust Artist to Dusty Human
It’s ok that you’re small,
Or else I would have made you tall.
I formed you carefully from dust,
I’ll hold you together, so just trust.
You don’t need to serve me well.
There’s just one thing that you need.
That you draw near to me now.
That in Me you find your smile.
I don’t want you made from marble,
I want you in all your dust.
So draw near in your humanity,
There’s only one thing that is necessary…
(Not that you be tall, or perfect, or more than human…)
Let the wind-storms drive you towards Me…