Two years ago, in May, I was thinking about the three times Mary of Bethany was at Jesus’ feet. One story is recounted in Luke, the other two in John, where they are a part of the extraordinary Lazarus narrative. I wanted to explore them more, and I did so in what turned into a series of three poems. I read early versions of these poems at a local Christian festival, Alive, and as the time of year comes around again, I find I am remembering them, and going back to those thoughts. I share the first one with you today, and the others will come in their own time, over the next week or so, as I continue to turn them over in my mind.
This first one draws on the story in Luke’s gospel where Jesus visits the home of Martha and Mary, and Mary sits at his feet. I have not referred to Martha directly, except for in the title. I do feel her lack. I wonder, in particular, what happened next. Maybe there are some poems to write about her, too.
There is so much to ponder in this story, but what caught my attention was how hard it is for us to be still, to be. We are so distracted, so pulled by so many things. We can end up feeling that those things are what define us. That it is what we do, or think, or believe, or how people view us that makes us who we are. Just being doesn’t seem enough, but our efforts to be more or different or better than we are can be life-sapping.
Acceptance can be hard to accept!
In writing this poem, I hoped to create a place of stillness. The kind of place where contemplative prayer begins. A place where we can open up a little to love, and light. A place where we know we are welcomed.
The photograph is taken in the Chapel of St Peter on the Wall, Bradwell on Sea, Essex.
Mary, sister of Martha, at your feet for the first time
You came in search of rest
away from the road,
that bright, shadeless road,
where so many came,
and you gave so much.
You came and sat down
in the cool room,
the shutters pulled
against the heat,
and Mary sat, too,
and it was enough.
Just sat, quietly, at your feet,
her face turned up to
yours as she listened.
And you saw how the light
fell across her,
as if for the first time.
And this is what you want,
what you long for.
Not the elaborate
preparations we would make,
not ourselves swept and
scrubbed to perfection,
our acts and our
in lifeless rows,
but to be, here in this light,
to be, here at your feet,
You can read the second poem here
and the third one here
9 thoughts on “The ‘Mary, at your feet’ poems – One”
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Only discovering your work today Andrea – through a Diana Butler Bass Sunday Musings email. Such lovely work. Bless you. Judith (Ireland)
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Thank you Judith, I am beyond happy to be part of her Musings, so delighted. I’m really glad you like it too.
Thank you Judith. It’s so good to find myself in such excellent company!
I too, have just discovered your work, as I prepare a retreat (based on Mary and Martha) for a retreat for some tired clergy. I hope your poetry may be one gateway for prayer for them. Thank you.
Thank you Anne. I hope the retreat goes well and gives much refreshment.