“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 named 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!” Luke 10:38-40
Sound familiar? Yeah, me too. As I approach Thanksgiving Day, my mind wanders to memories of this holiday from years past that were anything but a time of giving thanks for the blessings bestowed upon me. For many of us it was the time of year when we visited with or were visited by family members who were not in our journal of most favored people. Resentments rekindled the fires of controversy, snide remarks were smuggled into the conversation about my choice of employment or, in some years, lack of employment, and in general that great day of thanksgiving turned into a battle of egos.
Then we all sat down at the loaded dinner table, sometimes gave a few, meaningless words in prayer, and filled our stomachs with all the wonderful food prepared by the family’s matriarch. The traditional warm, mince pie was served up at the end of our meal topped with a shot of Grandma’s finest whiskey. A few of the menfolk ate several pieces of mince pie and then settled into the living room to smoke cigars and continue the “camaraderie”. It was usually a day which ended with a collective “Phew, glad this day is over. Now, we need to brace for Christmas.”
I finally realized that my day for giving thanks for all of our Lord’s blessings does not need to be this way. In addition to the challenges of visiting with family members who truly did not want to spend time together, the busyness of the preparations occupied minds that should have been quieted down into a mode of presence with God, a time to reflect and sit at the Lord’s feet in appreciation. A walk in the woods, a day on the river, a back porch reverie in the hammock all seemed to be more appropriate undertakings focusing on the One who was speaking. I longed to be more like Mary rather than Martha.
I commented recently at a meeting of AA, in which the topic was gratitude, that in addition to creating stressors which are challenging to recovering addicts, Thanksgiving Day should probably be renamed “pre-Black Friday shopping extravaganza.” Social media has been bombarding us for at least a week with Christmas sales, WalMart has had Christmas decorations on display since before Halloween and is opening its doors at 6 PM Thursday evening to get a head start on the shopping insanity. On Friday I will see news stories covering the fights breaking out between shoppers jostling over the bargains and, if I care to venture out onto the busy highways, I will take an extra dose of my anti-road rage medicine……”God grant me the serenity”.
On this year’s Thanksgiving Day I have a choice. Long distance travel to visit my few scattered relatives is not feasible nor desirable, a greeting card will suffice. My options are to sit with Mary or busy myself with Martha, to read uplifting verses of inspiration or clean my house, to spend time in the woods or bake another apple pie, to appreciate what my Higher Power has revealed to me or complain about WalMart shoppers.
“Martha, Martha, the Lord answered, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen to do what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:41-42