Mary & Martha
[Updated 8/14/2005 to add a link to beppeblog]
I was talking with my friend Shane earlier about Thomas Merton's book "Wisdom of the Desert: Sayings from the Desert Fathers of the Fourth Century". I didn't have my copy handy, so I had gone to Amazon to use the "Search Inside" feature and send him an example saying. I came upon one that I really liked that refers to Mary and Martha of biblical fame. The story was a little long, so I tried googling to see if anyone could save me some typing, and one of the first entries was this sermon.
The sermon talks about Mary and Martha as a metaphor for our balance of inward activity and outward activity. Another way to look at it might be the balance between the Great Commandments - love the Lord with all your heart, mind and soul and love your neighbor as yourself. If I had to rate myself on how balanced I am, I'd have to say that I come down more heavily on the Mary side. It feels overall, though, like Quakers (of the FGC variety, at least) tend to be more Martha-like (outward-facing, action-oriented). While it's not a bad thing to act, I feel like we have been neglecting our Mary/inward side. This post on Liz Oppenheimer's blog seems to show one example of that. I think I hear many more outward-oriented messages than inward.
The sermon mentions that without Martha, Mary will starve, and without Mary, Martha will burn herself out. In a previous post, I mentioned the Meeting for Worship for Peace that Red Cedar Friends Meeting has been doing. One of the things that motivated them to try this alternate form of meeting was that their Peace & Social Justice Committee was getting kind of burnt out. Once they started getting more in touch with their inward/Mary side via a more worship-oriented meeting, they felt renewed.
Thanks to LizOpp's catalogue of links I saw this post by Beppe about Mary & Martha.