by Laurie Gudim
Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her. – Luke 10:42
This Advent season I find myself turning with a real hunger to the dark and to silence. I don’t know what to do, and so my heart leads me to let go and be still. I want to rest in the connection I have with God until some clear next step presents itself.
Lighting a single candle in the darkness of a winter night can be an act of incredible hope. It connects us to the stars, whose tiny lights, across the billions of years they have traveled to reach us, represent whole worlds – often entire galaxies – full of God’s ongoing creativity and love. It connects us as well to every other tiny light on our planet, lit in prayer, in loneliness, in compassion, in fellowship. It connects us to the light sparking in the eyes of the coyote and the dove, the eyes of the person walking the streets alone in the midnight cold, and the eyes of the parent gazing at their newborn child. It connects us to the fire in the center of the earth – and, hopefully, it ignites the fire in our belly.
The Mary and Martha story is the Gospel reading for the Feast Day of Nicholas Ferrar, a deacon who founded a religious community in England that devoted itself to continuous prayer, to teaching, to the health and well being of its neighbors and to intentional poverty. Its commitment to living the Way of Jesus is a significant example for us. It shows the myriad of ways we can help when we pool our resources and live as Christ’s hands and heart in the world.
The Martha in me has been shipwrecked – temporarily only, I hope, since she is the one with a deacon’s heart. In the darkness of Advent I sit like Mary at the feet of my unseen teacher, and wait. My tiny candle flickers, but my resolve is steadfast. What will I hear?
Laurie Gudim is a writer and religious iconographer who lives in Fort Collins, CO. You can view some of her work at Everyday Mysteries.