Monday, September 3, 2012

To be a Mary, not a Martha

One of my favorite people to work with this summer was a man named Jordan. Jordan has a kind of mental handicap and yet is one of the most intelligent people I know.  He loves to talk to you about different saints and theology but his favorite thing to do was talk about video games.  And he loves to dance.  This man is awesome.  And during our first session of camp, he humbled me maybe more than anyone ever has in my life.  Here's the story.

The first session of camp I was going it alone. Tony had taken the kids to visit family in Texas while he was helping with the junior high convention for the Fort Worth diocese.  Generally, this made transitioning to camp life easier.  I was overwhelmed having never been to camp before. Ever. I had no idea how a sleep away camp functioned or what was expected of staff in general and a craft specialist specifically.  I kept myself busy as much as I could.  At night, though, I was alone in my ranchero.  I have a hard time sleeping when Tony is away, but this was the first time to be away from my whole family for so long.  I stayed up most nights rearranging the room, researching new crafts, Facebook stalking... you know, the normal insomniac time wasters. I would finally collapse in my bed about an hour or two before it was time to wake up and start all over.  By the end of the week, I was slowly becoming an emotional wreck.

Our beautiful little camp chapel.
Fridays are mass day for the camp.  I was lucky enough to be a Eucharistic Minister for this first week.  Being the first session, though, we had to improvise on a few things.  Our chapel is beautiful, but small.  With an occupancy of only 155, having a mass with 180 campers plus staff was not going to be possible in the chapel.  Instead, we held it in the main lodge, Thunderbird.  After communion, I was tasked with taking the remaining Eucharist to the tabernacle in the chapel.  Amanda, one of the assistant directors, came to help. Well, we quickly realized that the tabernacle was too small to fit the purificator covered paten we were having to use instead of a ciborium.  I told you we were improvising. (For those of you unfamiliar with the names of the items used in a Catholic mass, it was basically a large plate covered in a fabric napkin instead of the normal container used to hold the Eucharist). I told Amanda to head back to T-bird to ask the priest what we should do and that I would stay and spend some time with my Savior in an improvised adoration.  We placed the paten on the altar, lit the candle next to the tabernacle and I took my place kneeling before the altar.

As I knelt and started praying, I started to cry.  I was tired, alone and missing my family.  I felt like I was doing a terrible job. I was seriously considering whether or not I would continue on in my role after all of this.  Praying helped ease some of my turmoil, but did not put me completely at ease.  After some time had passed and my 30+ year old knees started to give way, I grabbed a chair and sat to continue to pray.  Only now I was having a hard time focusing.  Where the poo was Amanda?  How long am I going to have to sit here?  I have so much to do.  Better things. More productive things. All of this is running through my head.

Then, I hear the doors in the back open and in bursts Jordan.  "IS JESUS IN HERE?" I was a little taken aback.  "Um, yes, Jordan. He is," I answer, with maybe a little confusion in my voice.

Jordan came running to the front of the chapel. (Well, I guess more skipping than running. Leaping, maybe? Jordan kinda skip/leap/runs when he is excited.)

"Is that him there on the altar? Under the napkin?" I stifled a laugh. "Yes, it is," I answered. He gasped and did a little jump. He was leaping for joy.

"I was just spending a little time with Him in prayer.  Would you like to join me?"

And this is where I lost control of everything.  Jordan fell to his knees.  He prostrated himself in front of the altar.  Here I was, thinking of all the other things I could be doing.  These much better ways to be spending my time.  I had forgotten that I was in the presence of Jesus.  I broke.  Tears now streamed down my cheeks.  I looked at this man and I was put in my place.

Jesus was saying to me "Slow down.  I have things under control.  Take a minute and talk with me.  Better yet, listen to me. Why are you worrying about all this?"
As they continued their journey he entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him.  She had a sister named Mary who sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak. Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving?  Tell her to help me."  The Lord said to her in reply, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing.  Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her."  Luke 38-42
I am Martha all too often in my life.  Heck, I am Martha, period.  I fret and worry about everything. There is always something that needs my attention, and I'm ashamed to say it, but it isn't God.  I go through my days with maybe a quick "Give me patience, Lord" or "Bless so and so, God" but I rarely take the time to just sit and listen.

I was struck by how much joy Jordan had to merely be in His presence. He got it. Like Mary, he was ready to take time out and just be with Jesus. It is so hard to turn off the chatter in my head, but I am trying. I desire to have that joy and peace that Jordan had in our little camp chapel. I am working at it a little more each day.  A stolen minute here, a couple more there, just to listen.  I may never turn into a Mary, but this Martha will never stop trying.


  1. This gave me chills upon chills. What a great reminder. Thanks for sharing, Tricia.