January 11, 2013

Martha, etc, and Homemaking Beyond Maintenance

As I sit here typing, I can see this picture before me on the wall. "Can I "loose" myself as did Mary?
Now the title of my blog, one of my workshop titles is "Homemaking Beyond Maintenance". If you look for it on Amazon it will tell you it's a book not yet in print - so my title and me as the author is there ... waiting ... I've been meaning to write that workshop up into a book. People have requested it over the years.

I mention Mary and Martha. We've all heard countless times about Mary making the 'better choice' in sitting at Jesus' feet. Martha is often denigrated. Housekeeping for several decades became denigrated (though Martha Stewart helped turn some of that around).

I've sat with that scripture often. First I notice, in conjunction with other scriptures, that Jesus often returned to this home in Bethany. Martha always welcomed Jesus into their house and made him feel at home. Martha practiced hospitality well.

Then, it seems Jesus is reprimanding Martha after her requesting that Mary leave listening to Him at His feet and help her in the meal preparations. But in looking closer, I see that Jesus' only complaint is that Martha was 'so distracted and worried by many things'. He didn't mean for Martha to stop preparing the meal - instead, He meant for her to open the eyes and the ears of her heart to be present to Him in what she was doing.

I used to have a book that had some subtitle like "More of Martha to be More of Mary" (that's not it, but like it) - the point being, that maybe if we plan well in our home keeping, we'd be able to also just sit at Jesus' feet. I've taken the time as a Domestic Engineer to research the tools of my trade and how to wield them skillfully.

Martha was engaging in her tasks in a self-preoccupied state that took her awareness away from Jesus' presence. We need to go about our tasks in a state of God-consciousness. Home Keeping can be a labor of love as I use my head, hands and heart in creating a home, moving beyond mundane maintenance into the realm of creativity. In all that I do, am I reflecting the Image of God?

As Mary Englebret says, "Like whatever you do".


New additions to my message came about having sat with the Proverbs 31 woman scripture. I've heard so many talks, messages, and sermons on the passage. Many joking about a "super human woman". My take? As a weaver, spinner, and one who tries dying just about anything, I now see that scripture differently. This is no just practical, just pragmatic lady. This lady is extravagant

From an OLD calendar of mine. My hands are skilled with these tools.

Being clothed in scarlet and purple and linen is extravagant, because those colors are very hard to get from nature - royalty colors. And linen is a hard cloth to produce and of good quality. This is beauty, and an overflow of her heart. She gives freely, and is creative, and hospitable beyond family - to community and the world. She works willingly with her hands in delight.

I could go on-and-on on this subject since I've been asked to speak on it on-and-off over the past several decades. Kathleen Norris spoke on the subject and it was printed into an excellent little booklet, The Quotidian Mysteries - Laundry, Liturgy and "Women's Work"

Brother Lawrence in his kitchen
Another person I mention is Brother Lawrence (his book is - The Practice of The Presence of God). When he joined a monastery he had visions of holiness. Given the kitchen as his work domain was demeaning to him. Eventually he realized, as Jesus' statement to Martha, he could find more pleasure in the kitchen than in the gathering sanctuary, as his state of being ever present to God was Worship. 

And that's what Kathleen Norris says, "Whatever you do repeatedly has the power to shape us," to transform us. What we dread as mindless activity can free us, mind and heart . . . It is a quotidian mystery that dailiness can lead to such despair and yet also be at the core of our salvation. 

God is inviting us to play!

Shared with: Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop, Frugally Sustainable, Simple Lives Thursday
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