Friday, August 21, 2009

Letters to Jesus: Mary of Bethany

Dear Jesus,

I trust that You will receive this letter before leaving Bethany. I must write quickly, if it is possible, there is so much in my heart that I wasn’t able to share with You yesterday. I must hurry because Martha thinks I am with the other women washing clothes. She is still angry with me because of what I did yesterday! But, I was so absorbed, “engulfed in myself,” (those are her words!) in showing You my love and gratitude and devotion that it was easy to pretend that I did not hear Judas’ words of condemnation and, I must confess, I really did ignore her when she whispered so loudly for me to come to her immediately. She was embarrassed, but I could not help myself, even in the face of his scorn and her fury.

Judas’ reprimand nearly pierced my soul and yet, I know he could never understand the depth of our love for You. He wasn’t there the day my brother lay three days cold and dead, deep in the family tomb. Nor did he see You weep when You witnessed the grief and despair and anguish with which Martha and I greeted You that day. We were so overcome when You finally returned to us in Bethany, but still we feared that it was too late, for even You, to help him.

Judas does not know the despair of one who had so recently lost the only brother she has ever known, the only one who even begins to understand my devotion to You, the only one, besides You, my dearest friend, who comes to my defense when I do something foolish or thoughtless. Nor will Judas ever be able to understand the utter joy I felt when You stood at the entrance of the tomb and called my brother’s name, “Lazarus! Lazarus!” And from the dead, he heard Your voice and today he is with us again, healthier and stronger than I have ever seen him in his whole life. Is it any wonder I fall at your feet whenever I am in Your presence? It is You who has brought such joy, such hope and such freedom into our lives.

Thank you for coming to my defense. I knew You would and that is another reason why I was able to keep silent, even when angry words were on the tip of my tongue. How many times have You defended me when Martha would have liked to shake me for my “thoughtlessness.” Jesus, if she could only understand how impossible it is to stand in front of a hot oven when Your precious voice is so muffled and far away in another room. I can hardly stand the thought of missing one thought, one teaching, one blessed word of love and encouragement from Your lips. I do not understand how her heart keeps from dragging her into Your presence as mine does.

I wonder if Martha and I will ever understand each other. How can two sisters, joined by flesh and blood, be so different in temperament and spirit? Will we always be such a mystery and frustration to each other? (Father God, help me to love and understand my dear sister as You do!)

Martha says that if I would spend more time helping her and less time at Your feet, that I wouldn’t draw so much unwanted attention to myself. I know that would make her happy but, Jesus, when You are with us it is as though I am compelled to sit at Your feet. Martha says my “head is in the clouds” when You are near, but how could I ever explain to her the fear that I feel deep within my heart; The fear that we will soon have to say good-by to You. I have seen it in Your eyes, such unspeakable sorrow, I know You will not be with us much longer.

I think You have been trying to prepare us for Your departure for many weeks now. I know it frustrates You that no one seems to listen to You when You speak of it. None of us can bear the thought of You leaving and we do not fully understand why You must go. (God, give me the wisdom to understand Your will and the strength to accept it.)

I think Lazarus has some inkling of what is to come, there is sorrow in his eyes, as well. By-the-way, he was not at all angry with me yesterday. Unlike Martha, he says the nard belonged to me and how I chose to use it was no one else’s business. He agreed with You, the poor will always be among us and they will indeed be hungry again, but You will not always be with us and that spikenard was the only thing I had that was anywhere near precious enough to pour upon Your tired and weary feet. (Dear God, if I am to be called a foolish woman, let it be for Jesus’ sake!) I am sorry that Martha was angry and embarrassed, but I will confess to You alone, that I would do it all over again just to see the look of pleasure and approval in Your eyes.

And then, as I knelt there before You and my tears spilt upon Your feet, I looked into Your eyes again, and it was as though all the mysteries of the ages were hidden deep within Your soul and I was unable to fathom the depth of Your sorrow…or Your love. Alas, I am not at all like You. You seem to have the ability to look into the heart and soul of any one of us and know what we are thinking and how we are feeling. Sometimes I wonder if you know the words I am about to speak before they even leave my mouth! Martha is so sure that you can “read her mind” that I often wonder if that is why she hides in the kitchen so much when You are near!

I laugh every time I think of the way you hid her broom yesterday afternoon when she wasn’t looking. Even though she rolled her eyes and made that noise she always makes when she is disgusted with me, I know that she was pleased when you grabbed her hand and dragged her in to sit with the men. I know she loves you as much as I do-it just isn’t as easy for her to say it, but every time she cooks a meal or serves you a cold glass of wine or turns down Your bed in the guest room, she is saying, “I love you, too, Jesus.”

Oh dear, I hear her calling me and I do not think she wants to tell me how much she loves me just now! I must hurry, dear Friend, You remain, as always, in my thoughts, in my heart and in my very being. (The aroma of spikenard so fills our home and my hair still, that it is as though Your presence continues to linger with us, even yet this morning. May the sweet aroma of Your presence fill my life forever.)

Your Devoted Servant,

Mary of Bethany

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