“Jesus 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 10:38-42)
The story of Martha and Mary for me is really a story of hospitality. Hospitality is essential in our monastery. It is a Benedictine value that we hope we share well. Many people walk through our front door on a daily basis. We welcome family, friends and the stranger (just someone we haven’t gotten to know yet). We, like Martha, offer coffee and cookies to our guests. We, like Mary, try to take time to listen to the needs of our guests or to the stories they have to share.
I, along with the other sisters who work in the Monastery Gift Shop, try to listen carefully to the wants of our customers. Sometimes, we are allowed to share in some portion of our customers’ lives. We often hear stories of family members who need prayers and we offer to put those names on our prayer board. Sometimes, like Martha, things get a little hectic in the gift shop and we don’t have the opportunity to listen very well. Sometimes we are busy processing orders and we don’t take time to be as present as we should be.
We have at times in our lives been a listening Mary, ready to take time for the visitor and we have also been Martha, always the gracious host or hostess and sometimes distracted by the various commitments in our life.
*Reprinted with permission