The story of sisters, Mary and Martha has long been one of two sides of the same coin.
Martha has been referred to as the productive sister, the one who ran her household with planning, organization and a strong attention to detail and the general task at hand. She worked hard to maintain a sense of accomplishment and she upheld herself as a person to be counted on to "roll up her sleeves" and pitch in where needed. She spoke her mind and stayed true to herself and others. We are told that she was a dedicated friend and someone to be counted upon in times of need. When Martha entered a room, everyone knew that she was there and they were glad. Mary, on the other hand, is known as the gentle, kind and compassionate sister. She was of a gentle heart and found great strength rooted in prayer and spiritual reflection. She was highly motivated by the needs of others and was known for her sweet disposition and listening ear. She found great inner peace in silence and passion in her reserve. When she entered a room it was with a feminine grace and soft composure, and a sense of prayers answered surrounded her. Women of today are finding themselves on two sides of the same coin. We are finding it harder and harder to find a balance between our inner Martha and Mary, our inner sisters of Bethany.We are expected to run our homes with a strong sense of organization and attention to detail. We set up plans, make lists and follow schedules, and we accomplish the task at hand, all the while with our sleeves rolled up and our minds on meeting the needs of our family. We stay true to ourselves, our families and our friends. We can be counted upon to always be there for others and to live our lives as a testament to our calling as women and disciples of Christ. But quietly and with gentle grace and soft composure we find our inner spirit longing to be free. We realize that we are feeling jaded and out of touch, but we can't put our finger on why. We thirst but cannot be satisfied by drinks of water. We sit in traffic with our jaws tight and our teeth clenched, only to realize that our inner Mary is pleading with us to open up our minds to the word of the Lord and to quench our thirst with His peace. It is then that we remember Mary, the quiet sister, the one who treads gently upon the earth and leaves only peace in her wake. This is when we must quiet our Martha and spend time with our Mary. We must pray daily and always listen in the quietness of our hearts for the Lord to speak, and as we allow Mary to take our hand and lead us. She is with us as we say our morning prayers, and as we walk on the path of grace throughout our day, as we pray for guidance in times of trouble or despair, and as we end the day with the gentle promise whispered in our hearts from our Lord, "Be not afraid for I am with you always."
We are the new sisters of Bethany. We are finding our way in a world that is fraught with inconsistencies and expectations, often times without reason or worth. We are forging ahead and discovering a new balance in an old territory. We are learning to be organized and task oriented, to roll up our sleeves and get our hands dirty. And at the same time we are learning to be in touch with the whispers of God's promises for our world and our lives, to be graceful and contemplative and to remain mindful of our roles as spiritual women. We are learning to be spiritual soldiers and activists, and it is in this balance that we will begin to experience the daily miracles of God. For only when we can bring these sisters together in harmony will we begin to really experience the true awakening of our spiritual journey and we will maintain the beauty of two ancient women while making our way in the modern world.