Learning to be watchful

Written:

7/19/09

Published:

8/24/09

Bibliography:

A Beginner’s Introduction to the Philokalia, by Anthony Coniaris.

 

In Luke 10:38-42, Mary and Martha have Jesus over for dinner and we see Jesus provide us with an extraordinary insight into the way He prioritises everyday and ‘ordinary’ life.

In this story, I resonate deeply with Martha, who could see only the work to be done in front of her—and went and did it. A statement with profound implications for how I live my life in the everyday is Jesus’ response to her: “Martha, Martha…you are worried about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, and Mary has chosen it.”

I struggle with Jesus’ words in this story…when I am at a period in my life full of work and commitments with every half hour of the day scheduled for something, my natural inclination in reading this story is to say ‘Lazy Mary…at least Martha is getting the work done.’

At other times, like now, I am stirred by the Lord’s gentle hand on my shoulder, speaking right to the heart of the matter—Andy, Andy, you are worried about so many things…but only one thing is necessary…’.

I struggle with the notion that, in my eyes, Martha is doing the ‘real’ work, but in Jesus’ eyes, it is Mary who has her priorities straight. Can spending time with Jesus be ‘real work’?

This notion of what makes up ‘reality’, or ‘real work’ that has deep implications my life. In the Christian life, our reality is our calling to have one foot planted in the natural world, and one foot planted in the supernatural. It is in the balance, or the tension of these two realities that the follower of Jesus lives.

Monastics from the Orthodox stream of Christianity call these ‘many things’ that distract logismoi, or white noise. They are “a train of thoughts that befog and pollute the mind so that bit by bit we move from reality to fantasy”, where, in this instance reality = the tension of living in both the natural and supernatural worlds, and fantasy = the soul-killing belief that it is only our effort, our ‘work’, getting our tasks accomplished that really matters.

Jesus, teach me that spending time with you and prayer is real work.

Author: steeres

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