(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.