I went to 9am Mass this morning un-showered, hair a mess, pathetic attempt at eye liner, in a white T shirt with a coffee stain on my left breast, because when I sat down at 8:30am to pray with today's readings, I saw that today is the feast day of Saint Martha. How could I not choose the better part?
Funny. A woman saw me and said, "We have missed you! Have you been on vacation?", which was immediately followed by a quick up and down of myself and a concerned, "What happened to you?" Now maybe by what happened she truly meant where did you go, but let's not sugar coat this folks...this summer has been a beast and a challenge and I look like I have just come out of a boxing ring, not back from a week relaxing in the Cape. As I told the bank teller who asked me if I had proof of a change of address, "Doesn't the stress on my face count as proof enough?"
She, too, felt the burden.
The work and the endless serving.
How unfair it all was.
She, too, was anxious.
And like Martha, I often wonder why Jesus didn't give me the more desirable task; the easy way to serve. I mean, with all of the ways to serve Him, does mine really have to be the un-showered, endless meal cooking, kitchen cleaning, child chauffeuring, task? Because after all, who even sees that? Who knows the hours I spend scrubbing, and consoling, and fixing, and praying? Who even cares?
Oh, me, of so little faith.
I know He cares.
I know He sees.
I find a way to allow worry, doubt and anxiety to sneak in.
Did I say sneak in? Because, good grief, some days I think I leave the door wide open for him, with a bottle of wine and a plate of cheese and crackers set out on the table with a note saying, "Welcome, anxiety! Make yourself at home!"
Just beyond this laptop is a stack of bills that I have had, unopened, since before we moved.
And just beyond those bills is a little boy who still calls out for me in the middle of the night.
And just to my right is a dog who starting coughing again...not a good sign.
And upstairs are two girls with an ipod and iPhone, and are looking and seeing God knows what.
And on the counter is the lunch my husband packed himself for work...and forgot.
And at the high school is a teenage boy who is lifting weights, in an addition to the weight of life he no doubt is carrying, because I can only suppose that the weight we can see and understand is way easier to deal with than the weight that we just don't get, and brings us to our knees.
Ironic, that I am at my most out of shape, and yet, my body aches from all this lifting.
Worry. Anxiety. We are told not to. We are told to do as the wildflowers do, to trust as the birds trust. But flowers and birds don't have children, and flowers and birds don't have to pay bills.
Sure they make their own nest...and find their own food....and brave the weather without blankets or central air.
And well, the more I think about it...the birds don't have it so easy after all.
But we do that, right?
Without knowing the full story of each other, we always think everyone else has it so much easier.
There is a reason, when things stink, we use the expression, "It's for the birds!"
And Jesus asks Martha, "Do you believe?", and He asks me this too.
And the answer is of course, yes, I believe.
And so please, help my unbelief.
I learned of a friend who has a serious battle of cancer going on. Has been for a long time. But never spoke of it.
Another friend with a child in serious trouble.
And another who is losing her house and possessions.
Makes my private tasks and burdens look like that cape vacation I am not going on.
And I suppose that I can offer up my mundane and boring for these women who God has chosen suffering as their way to love.
I can look at their circumstances and say it is for the birds, but even God loves the birds.
And that is it. Right there. Love.
It truly does come down to this.
To love God, to love each other, and to be love.
I bowed my head low and prayed today that my heart be filled with His love, because my love is a miserable attempt at loving, if I am being honest.
And I prayed to lose the anxiety and worry.
And then came home and checked my bank account.
That was a bad idea.
Or was it?
Three weeks ago at the lake my little boy was screaming that he felt fish biting him.
He could not see them.
But he felt them.
And that frightened them.
Two weeks ago he went into the lake wearing goggles.
He dove his head under and looked.
He saw the fish.
The fish that were biting, he looked at, and saw.
"Mom! I saw an orange fish!"
"Mom! There is a white fish too!"
Worry melted away.
And finally, with joy on his face and peace all around, he popped up out of the dark waters and into the bright light of the sun and shouted out to me, "Now that I can see, I am no longer frightened!"
The bills, the bank account, the kids, the house, this life and these tasks that God has given to me out of love; I pray that I see them today in the light, and that I approach them with love, and that I do not allow them to cause me worry or fear. It is so easy to believe in what we can see. May we all dive in deeper into the dark unknown, ready with goggles, trusting and believing that just above us is a great bright light, waiting for us to pop our heads out of, and proclaim to the world, "Do not be afraid! He is here! In this dark, in these bills, in this cancer, in this mess...He is here!"