Marys and Marthas

So there’s a Bible story that just really chaps my hide.

File:Johannes (Jan) Vermeer - Christ in the House of Martha and Mary - Google Art Project.jpg

Vermeer, Christ in the House of Martha and Mary, Scottish National Gallery

It’s Luke 10: 38-42.

***

38 Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house.

39 And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word.

40 But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me.

41 And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things:

42 But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.

***

Many women consider themselves Marys. They sit at the feet of the teacher and discuss needful things.

Many women consider themselves Marthas. They provide the indispensable sustenance for the consideration of needful things.

According to the Gospel of Luke, the Marthas feel resentful of the Marys. But let’s think about who’s telling the story because it sure as hell wasn’t Martha or Mary.

If you asked either one, I bet they’d be pissed off at the men sitting in a circle, feeling the weight of their consequence, pitting the one woman against the other. (Sorry, Jesus, if you’re reading this, but I mean COME ON.)

Today, I sat in a meeting where a significant chunk of volunteer work I’d performed for the last 10+ years was ignored and erased. A Big Thing (sorry, I’m going to be vague here) that was accomplished by hundreds of people working together in concert, collaborating, supporting each other, utilizing each person’s strength and bolstering each person’s confidence, was claimed by a handful of men.

I don’t think any of these men were being purposefully arrogant. I don’t think they meant to erase the work of this broad cross-section of people that had performed this Big Thing. These men also had given huge chunks of time, energy, and dedication to The Big Thing.

But they each claimed The Big Thing was the work of these men around the same table at which I sat. The same table other women who’d also made The Big Thing happen. Those women were unacknowledged as well.

Some of those women were Marys. They sat around the table and talked of needful things.

Some of those women were Marthas. They actually did the things that the others talked about and planned for.

The Big Thing needed the Marys and the Marthas.

And it needed the men, too. The men who talked of needful things and did the needful things.

But the men don’t get to take all of the credit.

While we were doing the Big Thing, I was a Mary and a Martha (nobody’s either/or, after all, except in stories).

And speaking as a Mary and a Martha, I’m saying in my loud voice: I was there. I worked. I planned. I sacrificed.

We worked. We planned. We sacrificed.

We will not be erased.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Marys and Marthas

  1. david r mannix

    The meeting I was at, everybody had a turn…

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