Tuesday, July 29, 2008

St. Martha

Yesterday was the feast day of St. Martha, patron saint of homemakers, laundresses, and servants and, despite my lapsed Catholic upbringing, one of my favorite saints. I completely identify with Martha's dueling personality traits. She was the epitome of an overworked housewife. Being a good hostess was important to her... but not important enough to keep her from complaining to her guest that she was working too hard!

When Jesus came to visit she worked her tail off to make sure everything was perfect. Yeah, yeah, Jesus could feed 5000 but when he was in her house she was going to make sure he didn't have to lift a finger... and she was getting more and more annoyed that no one was helping her. So she did what most of us do when we are feeling put upon. She started bitching about her sister.

"Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself?
Tell her to help me!"

But Jesus told her to stop freaking out about the darned house and pay attention to what's really important. Now Martha was a good girl and I'm sure she tried hard to do what Jesus wanted. Maybe she relaxed a bit, didn't worry so much about her brother's dirty tunics, or only swept the scorpions out of the house twice a day... I don't know, and the Bible doesn't really detail her life story, but the next time we see her she is grieving the death of her brother. When she heard that Jesus was coming she jumped up and left her guests to rush to Jesus... And immediately started bitching again.

"Lord," Martha said to Jesus, "if you had been here, my brother would not have died."

But I'll bet that deep down inside she was really beating herself up for letting Lazarus get sick. Because that's the kind of girl she was... a control freak... and I get that. It does my heart good to know that a woman who had the audacity to scold God would end up a saint instead of a pillar of salt or something.

It's rumored that later in life Martha went to France, I don't know if she had retired there or was just vacationing but true to her nature, probably between the Boeuf Bourguignon and the Profiteroles, she waded into the swamp and tamed a dragon that had been terrorizing the village. After charming the beasty with hymns and holy water she led him back to town, where the locals rushed up and killed it. And I'll bet Martha responded just like I would.

"Goddammit! I just finished cleaning this floor!"

Yesterday, in honor of St. Martha, I didn't do a darn thing because I know that what every overworked homemaker really wants is a day where no one messes up the kitchen.

Now somebody really needs to come help me fold this laundry. Or am I just here to do all the work? Oh, that's it, right? I'm just the maid around here. No, no, don't get up! I'll just vacuum around you...


Mrs. G. said...

I might read your version of the bible!

cupcake said...

She's my girl. When I converted to Catholicism, I chose St. Martha as my patron. I adore her. And I love your take on her story.

Cheri @ Blog This Mom! said...

So well told! This could be a best seller. For generations to come. Really!

Anonymous said...

I love this post. What a take on St. Martha. I think she's my new favorite saint!

Ginaagain said...

Thank you for your kind comments everyone. I was a little worried that I might offend someone but I enjoyed writing it. There aren't enough people in the Bible that are as easy to identify with.