Wednesday, July 16, 2008

What Is This Balancing Act?

The balancing act is how you live a full and fruitful life while doing the stuff that needs to be done. How to keep the spiritual, physical, vocational, avocational sides of you generally on the right track, without going nuts. Is that even possible?

The balancing act is how you handle the once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. Like Mary and Martha in the New Testament story. Jesus comes to visit their town, and stops to teach at their home. Martha plays the hostess, and gets a bit stressed when Mary doesn't help out.

Both women focus on the opportunity, each in a very different way. Martha thinks "We have an important guest. He will need quiet to teach, he should not worry about anything but teaching while he is in our house". Mary thinks "I will sit and listen.". And as the story is told, when Martha wants Mary to leave Jesus' side and help out with the hostess duties, Martha gets slapped down.

Dang! Why is that? I would like to say that it is because Martha wasn't content with her choice and tried to distract Mary from hers. That is a facile explanation, and contrary to the rest of the story. The narrative goes on to say not only that Mary doesn't have to help out but that Mary has made the better choice. Not just that Martha is getting whiny and to get over it, but that Martha chose to concentrate on the wrong thing!

Well, in hindsight, perhaps. After all, Christians believe that Jesus was the Messiah. So perhaps the dishes could wait while he taught. But this lesson is, for Martha, as harsh as that given to the older brother of the prodigal. And I have to wonder what would have happened if both Mary and Martha had decided to sit at their guest's feet to learn. Eventually everybody would have gotten hungry, and it's not like they could have called out for pizza. Would we have gotten the Parable of the Unprepared Hostess, like the Parable of the Unready Virgins?

What does this story tell us women about balance in our life?

I haven't figured it out yet. But figuring it out is part of the reason for this blog. There will be plenty of side trips, because life is just too darn interesting to harp on one thing for too long. But balance is the theme here, and I will keep coming back to it.

Until next time!

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