“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing.Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.” Luke 10:41-42
The life of a Benedictine novice Sister can be very busy. My week is filled with a variety of study and ministries and assigned tasks. Even though the Rule of St. Benedict is grounded in the principles of moderation and balance in all things, I am, after all only human – and as yet only a novice. I still struggle with maintaining good balance.In my adult working life I have always been a little more “Martha” than I have been “Mary.” That has not always been so. I remember clearly the days of youth when a nap on Sunday afternoon came first before completing my homework. Somewhere along the way I grew up and lost touch with the simple, prayerful state of just being. I suspect most of us, as humans, have. Maybe what the whole world needs is a good, one-hour nap every Sunday afternoon.After lunch on a recent weekday, I began my reading assignments for classes. It was 2 o’clock before I knew it – time to go to Benet Hall to visit our aged Sisters during their afternoon coffee break. I wrestled with myself: should I keep working and maintain the momentum I had built, or stop and go for my visit? If this had been prayer time, there would be no question. I would stop and go to prayer. So why should this be different? My time visiting the elderly and the infirm is a form of prayer.I stopped what I was doing, but instead of going to the Benet Hall coffee break, I stopped in the room of a Sister who is nearing the end of her life’s journey. I entered the room and sat quietly with her at first, then I reached for her hand to let her know I was there with her.We sat that way for 30 minutes, holding hands in blessed silence interrupted only with her occasional questions about my home state of Louisiana. It was the most blessed 30 minutes of my entire day. For the rest of the week my mind and heart went back to that moment. It seemed to me that I had held the hand of Jesus Himself lying on His sickbed; but really I was the one who needed to slow down, to have my hand held, and know that I was loved.So…that’s what it was like when Martha finally sat down.
Sister Ann Marie Wainright
Sister Ann Marie Wainright is a Benedictine Sister of St. Scholastica Monastery in Duluth, Minnesota. Originally from New Orleans, Louisiana, she worked as a CPA for many years before earning dual masters degrees in counseling and pastoral studies. Sister Ann Marie is interested how people encounter God in their daily lives and how they use their faith and spirituality in meeting difficult challenges.