Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Good Part

Motherhood is one of the key ingredients in civilization, so I’m spending another day on it prior to Mother’s Day.

I came across something yesterday about the sometimes painful time Mother’s Day is to some women. I’m linking it, because it’s worth reading. Early on I experienced some of the angst. I had lost a child (I told this story here). Then I went through some of the challenges of fertility treatments—not as long and difficult a journey as for some, but Mother’s Day was awkward a few times.  My mother had similar years. She also lost a child. Then she went through a long series of miscarriages—and during those years, women came to her accusing her of being selfishly unwilling to have a child. I have a hard time imagining such conversations between women, but that is how she remembers the pain.
Fortunately, in our church, when it’s time for mothers to stand and receive their flower gift on Mother’s Day, all women age 18 and up are asked to stand and receive the gift. The thinking is, all women are either currently mothers, or future mothers, or have been mothers, or do some mothering to those around them, or, at the very least will experience the gift of motherhood in the next life. So no one is allowed to be left out. I don’t know if that entirely does away with all pain and awkwardness, but it is an attempt to love and honor.
The author, Amy Young of The Messy Middle blog, has a portion where she suggests ways to respond to various women’s situations, which is quite lovely. One of the lines made me smile: “To those who will have emptier nests in the upcoming year—we grieve and rejoice with you.”
Now, for what I want to share today:
Many years ago, for a Mother’s Day, I wrote a poem comparing the scripture story about sisters Mary and Martha with the need, as a mother, to give time and not just dutiful service. It’s a challenge mothers continue to face in the effort to make a civilized home. May God bless all women in their moment-by-moment efforts to make the most joyful choices!
The scriptures I refer to in the poem can be found in Luke 10: 40-42 and Matthew 25: 35-40. I use the classically beautiful King James Version of the Bible. 
Minerva Teichert painting of Mary and Martha with Jesus

The Good Part 

Sweet, young, faithful Mary,
Attending undivided to her most Beloved guest;
Thinking of the moment as a present
To be unwrapped with wonderment. 

And Martha, good and sturdy Martha,
Cumbered about much serving
While the others carry on without her.
She aches to sit with them,
Yet works to give a worthy table. 

The aching must have pained a bit too much:
If Mary would please help a moment,
To hurry the everyday along,
Then both could sit with their dear guest. 

“Martha, Martha, thou art careful
And troubled about many things:
But one thing is needful:
And Mary hath chosen that good part,
Which shall not be taken away from her.” 

One needful thing:
That Martha had not chosen.
She could not spend time for Him,
Or time with Him would be lost. 

In my own small, learning home,
I am cumbered about much serving—
Washing and peeling and cooking, too,
For many of the least and most
Of these my brethren, children, husband. 

They get so hungry and dirty.
Yet, how unaware is the little child
Of his clean shirt and slow-cooked supper.
Rather a sandwich and a story for dessert. 

I am the needful thing!
Myself a gift to one of these—
The same as sitting at His feet.
And if I choose that good part,
Time with my Beloved guest shall not be lost. 

—Linda Nuttall
     May 8, 1984

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