But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:41-42 (NRSV)
perispaó: to draw away, from Strong’s Concordance
Is it Martha whose head is being turned?
Cooking, cleaning, what else to worry on?
Drawn away, weighed down, hampered–
oh, yes, laundry in piles. Distractions acting
upon her; Luke actively bestows passivity;
she passively surrenders her will.
The better part. The women here today
retreating, writing silently in camaraderie, safe
from the distractions of life–children, cats, media–
unencumbered in these precious hours.
Focused. A corporate man’s word?
Can we be women in this man’s world?
Or will we be driven mental, closeted first wives?
Demons. Witches. Fires at the stake.
Conformity at stake.
Electroshock therapy for those
not Martha enough. But Marys
risked the danger, too.
Cumbered, oh most lovely and clunky
word, Shakespearean-sounding verb. Chosen
betimes for King James and all the English world.
Come hither and lend us thy sense.
Can you not see the weights tied
to Martha’s wrists, ankles? An x-ray
would show the cartoon marbles
rolling ’round. They threaten to burst
her brain. Will the Messiah catch them if they do?
Is this solely a woman’s madness? Obsession
(oh, Calvin Klein, oh, Ahab, oh, Augustine)
is Mary’s game, too. But she is drawn forward,
is she not, by the scent of wisdom? No apostasy,
no need for metanoia. No spinning ’round
and ’round, just loving focus in silent contemplation.
Thank goodness Luke didn’t write that Martha talks too much.
Distraction–so dry a word, so
In her basement carrel, she writes.
Service to others
She feels those squirrely marbles;
her out to the world. The better part,
or simply more
Encumbered by love, and probably sibling rivalry,
Mary and Martha are yoked, an easy burden or no?
Jesus knew we’d always be chasing squirrels.
Women are human, too.
Artwork: Christ in the House of Mary and Martha, attributed to Johannes Vermeer, from the Google Art Project