Friday, June 22, 2012

Finding Mary

I showed up at an outreach that Thanksgiving morning with my “Martha” apron on. I was ready to mash potatoes, serve green beans, wash the dishes, even scrub the toilets. But I had never met the guy in charge, and he mistook me for a “Mary” and sent me out to the streets.

I walked for about an hour, inviting those along the way to a warm meal. Then I saw her. She was half bent over, talking desperately into the payphone to the voice on the other line. I waited at a distance until she hung up. I invited her to dinner, and she said yes without hesitation.

We walked and talked like old friends, and she tore my Martha apron right off. By the time we reached the church I knew her story, even the most intimate and painful details. The next night she came over for dinner at my house, and on Sunday I picked her up for church.

She became a friend. Not a project. Not someone to fix; someone to love.

For a while Rachel was a big part of my life. I can’t say for sure if she was changed by me, but I was certainly changed by her.

On Sundays I would pick her up from the house where she was staying. She shared the home with dozens of other people and slept on the couch in the living room. Usually my arrival would be her alarm clock. I would step over passed out bodies and wait patiently on the couch while she dressed. Some days her dreadlocked roommate would sit and smoke and challenge himself to a game of chess while chatting with me about life and love and God.

Then one morning, a few months into our friendship, I went to pick her up and she was gone. No doubt her adventurous spirit moved her on to the next unknown.

I still think of Rachel and say a prayer for her from time to time. And when I do I remember how thankful I am for my friend who helped teach me what it means to love my neighbor.

The Martha in me had always led me to serve my neighbor naturally. But my friendship with Rachel taught me that love is not always about what I can give or do, but rather about what we can share. Sometimes it is something tangible, like a warm meal, clean water, or a bus ticket. But more often love finds itself in places like open conversation, laughter, and shared silence between friends.


"As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, 'Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!'

'Martha, Martha,' the Lord answered, 'You are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed- or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.'"
Luke 10:38-42

10 comments:

Mark Langham said...

So good. Thanks for sharing your lovely friend.

Melissa Irwin said...

ah... heavy heart here

Jess Elyse said...

This is really good, Becca. I think we all need relationships like this. This also makes me want to read Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World. Have you read it?

Rebecca said...

@Jess- I have heard of that book, but haven't read it. I'll have to see if the library has it...it seems quite fitting for me :)

Linda Roy said...

Becca, I remember! A meal at our place with several of the Samaritan women. I remember the Thanksgiving meal you met her at. Your post reminds me to pray for her also
Love you, mom

Linda Roy said...

Becca, I remember! A meal at our place with several of the Samaritan women. I remember the Thanksgiving meal you met her at. Your post reminds me to pray for her also
Love you, mom

JD said...

I love your heart (both the living kind, and the written kind), so much.

(((((( squeezes ))))))

Mindi Stevens said...

Wow.

Denise said...

You are a precious blessing.

Gayle said...

You never cease to amaze me and always inspire me. Thank you.