The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


July 9, 2008

Mary and Martha

Last week I wrote about Mom's death. In the midst of my grieving—and right now almost overshadowing it—is my work as executor of her estate. It's not that the estate is huge. It's that the amount of detail one needs to tend is huge ... and it's that each action can take multiple phone calls just to get to the correct person. "Oh, I'm sorry, Ma'am, you'll have to call this number." "Please press 2 if this and 1 if this and..." "We can't help you with that but perhaps this number might work for you." And then, of course, there are all the thank-you's too. I want to do those carefully since each memorial reflects a relationship.

These details need attention. The work must be done and in an orderly fashion. Yet my heart cries out for some time just to process and reflect on what just happened here. What does Mom's death mean? What does it mean to be orphaned, even at my mature age? What do the images and visions Mom had in her last days mean? What do the words of the hymns and texts Mom chose for her funeral have to say to me now? They were, after all, the words she wanted us to pay attention to at this stage.

Then too, I wonder about the legacy left to me, my children and my grandchildren by Mom and by Dad, who died seven years ago today (see "Imprint for eternity" for a story about that experience). What do their lives mean for mine? As they brought me up in the faith and in a loving home, what does that mean for how I now live my life? For how I've raised my children and for how I'm now involved in my grandchildren's lives? So much on which to reflect.

I must admit that I'm thinking a lot these days about the story of Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38-42). I feel as though I'm in the kitchen (figuratively, of course) when I really want to be out in the living room at Jesus' feet!! That's a text I confess I've never completely been comfortable with anyway. And now I'm really feeling the pull.

Dear God, help me balance all these matters, things of the heart and soul and things of the mind and body.

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