facing a pandemic of un-peace

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

Today, after her 10-day swing though Georgia and Florida to visit the grandchildren, two of her brothers, and her cousin Zandra, Rebekah is heading back to Wake Forest and home. Woohoo!

Generally, I’m a fairly decent housekeeper (I’d give myself a B or possibly a B+). But I have worked extra hard over the past couple of days to upgrade my rating, doing things like removing everything from the kitchen countertops and super-cleaning, pulling out the furniture and deep-cleaning the floors, even breaking our house rule and doing laundry!

I think I broke a world’s record – and definitely set a personal best – by ironing ten shirts in one evening (please don’t critique the results, I know I’m not Martha Stewart).

One exercise in futility was yesterday’s pine-straw collection. Every surface around both houses: decks, steps, walkways, drives, “lawns” – all perfectly clear of debris. By now however – around 11:00 am Wednesday – it is all covered again. Just looking outside I can see pine-straw coming down like it’s Broadway in a ticker-tape parade.

Finally, I managed to find some good “last-gasp-of-summer” peaches at our roadside stand. I may not like the sultry summer conditions of July and August, but I do love summer peaches, and summer tomatoes, and all the fresh vegetables North Carolina produces so well.

It’s about the relationship:

I am doing these things not because I am obsessed with a clean house (clearly not!), nor because I worry that Rebekah will somehow evaluate how well I have done. But because – and this is where the scripture reference comes in – I always want our home to be a great context for what is really important, and that is the relationship.

It may be that Rebekah isn’t worried about finding a pristine house when she comes gets back – but a home that looks and feels welcoming is a more relaxed venue for what actually does matter. We may – primarily – be spiritual, relational beings, but we live out our relationships in the context of a real world where comfort, and convenience, and a sense of order are not just preferences, they are fundamentally important to the human condition.

I mention this because our world is rife with disorder at the moment, beset by serial inconveniences and mounting disasters and what amounts to a pandemic not so much of COVID as of un-peace; of being unsettled; of disquiet; of disturbance, turmoil, discord, and unrest.

Best Spiritual practice:
– Derek Maul lives, thinks, writes, and sometimes does housework in Wake Forest

Maybe ironing my shirts, and cleaning the kitchen, and vacuuming, and trying hard to keep things in order is my best spiritual practice at this time? Maybe our national discourse would benefit from more people cultivating a welcoming atmosphere – be it in our homes, or at church, or out in the street, or in the throws of a disagreement – social or political or otherwise.

Just so long as my Martha moments do not distract me from Jesus, but rather create the space where he is always welcome and at home. – DEREK

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