I can’t even count the number of times I have said, “Just a minute, I’ll be right there,” to my kids. Embroiled in the minutia required to keep a family fed, clothed and running, I often missed some of the fun, or at least, joined it already in progress. Eventually, it became a habit — I would be so busy getting everything prepared, packing, figuring out logistics, and then once we got arrived, worrying about when we had to leave and how we were getting home, that I forgot to make time to enjoy the event.
But who is going to do the work, if I am just sitting there, enjoying the party?
Someone has to take care of all the logistics! That’s why the gospel story of Martha and Mary particularly irks me. Martha is left holding the bag, trying to put out a spread for all the hungry guests coming to hear Jesus, while Mary sits at his feet. Stuck in the kitchen, she misses the pearls of wisdom and prophecy that drop from his lips. When Martha points this out to Jesus, he just says something about Martha choosing the inferior role.
Suddenly I realize — Martha did make a choice. Instead of obsessing over the food, perhaps she could have thought ahead, anticipated that she might want to join the party sooner, and made trays of lasagne the day before. Or just limited the fare to mead and potato chips and let the guests help themselves. Or if she didn’t have advance warning, maybe she could have just sent out for Chinese food?
The point is — while it is necessary to take care of the logistics, having everything perfect might just be the wrong priority. It’s like my first husband always said, “work smarter, not harder.”
There is a pride that comes in a job well done, but focusing on all the trees sometimes made me miss the forest. Lost in the work, I only experienced the fun retroactively, when later remembering the event, after it was all over.
“We are lost! But at least we are making good time.” a joke from a 1940s cartoon attributed to Yogi Berra.
I want to avoid any further “near life experiences.” I am choosing to do the preparation work, but only the necessities, to allow me to be present for the party.
But then how does the laundry ever get done?
© Jane F. Collen February 9, 2019 IndexCardCure choosing to live happily