Random and not so random musings from a 5th generation NE Missourian who became a 1st generation Episcopalian. Let the good times roll!

(Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, from OrthodoxWiki.)

I have to admit, I've usually been more in Martha's camp in that whole "Mary/Martha/Jesus" story.  There is always a lot to do in my life.  Always.

I'll also add that for those of us hardwired with a little more "can do" nature, Mary of Bethany, at times, has been held over our heads like the Sword of Damocles.  Mary, of course, is the "good" girl, sitting quietly at Jesus' feet.  Martha is the "bad" girl--how dare she have her undies in a twist because she wants to get some things done around the place so the guests can eat and be comfortable!  Why, the nerve of it!  Mary is "good" for embodying the things society has come to deem positive feminine qualities.  Martha, on the other hand, comes off as bossy, scolding, and shrewish.  For so many years, the only thing I ever heard from the pulpit or Sunday School was that the qualities of which I possessed the minority were more prized than the qualities I knew I had, and that the ones I had were the "bad" ones in the story.

In short, "You should be more like Mary and less like Martha," sounded a lot like, "If you were being truly a Christian woman, you'd be like Mary--not who you are."

So I had to chortle a little at a piece from Elizabeth Esther's blog, at her discoveries regarding the legend of Martha slaying a dragon, as well as the fact the Roman Catholic church has a feast day for Martha of Bethany, but not Mary of Bethany.

Well, it's worth pointing out that in the Episcopal Church, we celebrate all three on July 29--Mary, Martha, and their brother Lazarus.  One of the things I love about Anglicanism is we often try to be more both/and, rather than either/or.  Living in the tension of both/and, and believing in a God who can handle both/and, is a thread that underpins so much in our brand of faith.

The reality is, now and then, no matter which of the three we seem to be hardwired to be, there are times that Marthas like me DO need to slow down, sit, and listen.  There was even a time I had to be Lazarus for a while--in those days after my breast cancer surgery and during my radiation therapy--when "being dead"--both to myself and to the world--was a very important piece of my healing.   Yet, we should never feel guilty for being what we are hardwired to be.  I think this particular story is difficult for strong willed women, for the women who get things done, and for women who don't quite fit the mold of traditional femininity.

Really, I'm grateful that other people are hardwired to be the Marys and the Lazaruses of the world, because I sure couldn't do it.  I'm glad to work with them to advance God's reign, and to learn about the times I need to emulate them--just don't ask me to be them.

(Photo of kitchen courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Week one is pretty much in the books.  I was "within my Lenten food budget" but I also didn't run out of anything important.

I did, however, have a really big realization.  In short, I have "more kitchen" than most people.

I have a 4 burner full size gas cookstove with a broiler.
I have a microwave that does more than "poke and nuke."
I have a full-size deep freeze which enabled me to buy meat in bulk and the amount I'm counting off for a daily meat ration is cheaper than if I had to buy meat at the store.
I have gizmos--crock pots, blenders, etc.
I have a dishwasher that enables me to not have to wash a single dish after I've made a culinary mess, so I don't think about the extra time and energy to wash dishes or leave things sitting long enough to attract bugs.
I have a fridge big enough to store leftovers.

I'm certain the average person who has to live on this food budget wishes their family could have any of these things.  I'm betting the average person who has to live on this food budget puts in more hours at difficult, manual, or mentally tedious labor, and coming home to cook and clean dishes does not find this "fun."

I'm remembering cooking wasn't "fun" for me when I had very little income.  Back when my days consisted of being in class (or on the hospital floors) for hours on end, nights on call, etc., cooking was something that kept me from more important things, like studying, vegging out in front of the TV, or sleeping.  Cooking was only fun when I had a little free time, and friends to share it with, play cards, yard games, etc.  Cooking only became "fun" for me when I got a little income and could experiment.

When I was in Lui, South Sudan, cooking was more communal.  The kitchen crew who fed us worked plenty, but they worked together, shared stories and time.  In the US, we all go home to our insular little worlds, and it's pretty easy to see cooking as thankless, boring, and hindering us from spending our time on more meaningful things.  The temptation is to do as little as one can to do what one has to do and be done with it.  Cooking is messy, and if one doesn't want bugs, mice, rats, roaches, etc., cleaning is a must.

Wow.  It's not just about the food.  It's about quality of life, of which food is just a tiny part.

(photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

...and I've already had to make some choices about where I purchase food.

For starters, I decided to fast on Ash Wednesday up to the time of our evening service at 7 p.m.  "Ah, though, I probably need a pint of milk, a little juice, and a couple of protein drinks..." I thought to myself.

Now, normally I'd run into the Casey's on Osteopathy Street to do that, since it's on my usual route to work.  However, those items would each be anywhere up to 80 or 90 cents cheaper at the Hy-Vee.  I have to make my food money last till next Wednesday (when I put another $86 in there and start with a new week.  As it was, the things I got at the store came to $10.55.

I realized that, at this stage of my life, I pretty much buy whatever grocery item I want, wherever that's handiest to purchase.  Yet doing this as my Lenten discipline has reminded me it wasn't always that way, and this is the way it is for many people EVERY day.

I also realized a staple in my life at Lent is going over to Mary Immaculate's fish fry on Fridays in Lent, right after we've done Stations of the Cross at Trinity.  That's $7.50 right there.  I realized that will be my "splurge" for the week during this project.

I am remembering.  Remembering the days when every penny for food needed to be accounted for.  Remembering that part of how we got by in the winter, when my dad was laid off, was because he hunted, and because we'd occasionally get a calf or a pig to raise up and butcher.  Remembering we'd buy the "pieces and ends" of the bacon instead of the strips...things like that.  Remembering there were a few days that biscuits and gravy were the main course.

How did I forget so much?

I just posted this to my Facebook page today:

As Lent approaches, some of y'all have asked what I plan to do for my Lenten spiritual discipline. This year, b/c I've been so involved in food ministries, I decided to make it about food awareness. I went to the Economic Policy Institute's Family Budget Calculator to determine what the bare minimum food budget was for my household (Ok, so I'm claiming "one person and two dogs" is close enough to "one person and one child" b/c that's the lowest it goes.)

That comes to $86 a week in my area of the country. My plan is for the dogs and me to live during Lent on a food budget of $86 a week. To prevent my urge to "hoard," I'm going to subtract the food in my cabinets from the budget if I use something I already have. I'm also participating in Jane Redmont's online Lenten course, which is also about "food." I've calculated my normal monthly grocery bills on my credit card, and will donate the difference to food ministries.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it. I'm telling you, my Facebook folks, as another layer of "keeping me honest." I hope everyone who observes Lent has a blessed one!

I hope to keep you all appraised of this journey via my blog:  My thoughts, musings, (and perhaps even hunger pains!)  May each of you, in your own way, observe a blessed Lenten season.



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Kirksville, Missouri, United States
I'm a longtime area resident of that quirky and wonderful place called Kirksville, MO and am wondering what God has hiding round the next corner in my life.

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