Precious Pilgrim,

I'm sitting on "my" little blue sofa at the lake once more. Yea! Thank You Lord! It's one of my most favorite places in the whole wide world. It's perpendicular to a window that looks on to the water. It faces east so I can see one of my most favorite activities, the dawning of a new day.

I can slow down and deep breathe in this spot and get back in touch with my "Maryness." You might ask, "Lucy, what are you talking about?" Well, Pilgrim, I believe each one of us, regardless of gender is a mixture in varying degrees of the Bethany sisters, Martha and Mary. We each have some active and some contemplative parts to our makeup.

I'm constantly seeking to balance the two. Are you? Right now I know I'm a little out of kilter. My "Marthaness" has been quite active; in fact, she's worn out and has a cold. It's two days after Thanksgiving. The night before the event we had six for dinner. The day of the event we had 20 for lunch and 15 for dinner. The day after the event, we had 9 for breakfast. Plus, we'd spent the weekend before in Colorado where my middle son's beautiful baby boy was baptized. Plus, two weeks before that I'd attended my 40th high school reunion in Chicago. Help! And I haven't bought the first Christmas present yet! (I must stop and declare all of these activities were great!)

So, what makes sense to me? Stopping and sitting and silence - worshiping our Father God; crawling up into His lap and letting Him love on me or sitting at our Lord Jesus' feet like Mary of Bethany and just listening.

I recently read these words by R. Morrison found in Celtic Daily Prayer. "I undervalue my silence too much. Too often I move from action into silence instead of the other way about." Pilgrim, I do too! Do you?

My prayer for each one of us this blessed busy Holiday season is, by God's grace, may we each go from silence into action, not action into silence. That seems like a more centered mode, centered on the Christ mode. Don't you think?

Now, let's go on an imaginary visit to the "Bethany sisters," who are getting ready for "the season," too.

May each one of us have a more blessed, balanced celebration of HIS birth.


Christmas with the Bethany Sisters:
"A Flower and a Butterfly"



I, Martha, have a lot to accomplish in a short amount of time,
Cooking, cleaning, sewing, shopping
and finishing this ridiculous little rhyme.

You see, He is coming and I am running, trying
To get everything straight.
Who's to do what, when and where?
I've been having quite a debate.

Dusted and polished, my home spic and span.
All the family members, including the "ex's,"
We'll be a really close-knit clan.
No divisions allowed during this "season of joy."
Surely for a short time, we can pull off this little ploy.

"Mary, when are you going to clean up your room?
Don't you realize the Master is coming soon?

He'll only stay for an hour or two,
Then back to our normal routine.
I don't think you're doing your part
And that's being a little bit mean.

I'm not complaining, just observing.
You seem to be slowing down.
Get up off that floor girl!
And might you stop clowning around?

You seem to be stargazing
As if in a trance,
As if you're hearing angels singing
And want to do a dance.

Wait, that reminds me of that crystal clear night,
Oh so long ago.
Remember, sister, as children, we saw that night aglow?

It was like no other that we'd ever seen before.
We learned it was the Messiah's birth
Wise men and shepherds did adore.

"Now it's our turn to give Him gifts -
I'm preparing a gourmet meal,
Only serve His favorite dishes,
The ones that do appeal.

What about you, dear, do you have
Anything special in mind?
I'm sure in all that clutter, Sis
There's something you can find.

Think of all the things He's done
For you, brother and me.
Why, if He hadn't come into our lives,
Where would any of us be?

Our Lazarus sick, then dying, then dead -
For four whole days!
Jesus came, He wept. He called and
Then miraculously did raise.

He brought him back to life again,
Said, "I am the resurrection."
I know this is the truth
I will follow His every direction.

But first I must get this house in order!
Don't you understand?
How can anyone just sit around and listen?
We must make this home quite grand.

Hospitality is so very important.
That's why He loves this place.
He seems to relax and enjoy
Why, you can even see it on His face.

Sister, do you comprehend
What He's been recently talking about?
I know He loves us and is the Messiah,
Of this I have no doubt.

Why are you looking a little sad?
What's going on in your brain?
Do you know of another scenario,
Different from that reign?

Now, back to your gift.
Have you decided what it's going to be?
I'd make it something really special
If it were up to me.

Your present is that gift of Nard
That most expensive perfume?
Are you sure? Why, the smell will
Overpower every inch of this room!

I know - if you must -
Why don't you give it to Him
At Simon the Leper's house?
Why, you can go tiptoeing in there
And leave it, quiet as a mouse.

In the meantime, I'll just continue
My awesome baking and all the other
Wonderful goodies that I'm making -
For our future King."

Your sister in Christ,
Martha of Bethany


Precious Pilgrim,

I'm sitting on the floor gazing out onto a wintry crisp blue day. There's not a cloud in the sky. I pray that my words to you will have such clarity.

I'm watching a bevy of birds, little brown sparrows to be precise, eating at a feeder. I am such a bird, a humble little specimen. If you saw me in a crowd, I don't think you'd take notice.

Ah, but that is not true of my Master. I'll never comprehend, never understand, how it is that He loves me, loves me like no other. Do you hear, Pilgrim? That is a present tense I am using, even though it's been over two millennium since that first gaze. I believe He loves you in a similar manner, like no other.

I see these little birds relishing every seed they're eating. I also relished every word my Savior spoke. I remember the news would spread like wildfire every time He came to visit Bethany. He usually stayed at my sister Martha's home, for she was well known for her generous hospitality. I would try and help her prepare and continually refurbish goodies as needed. But I'm afraid, for me, He was like a magnet. I was so drawn to Him. Even if in another room working, even if the door was left ajar, I found myself going to Him. I couldn't help myself. I bet that would have been true for you too, Pilgrim.

My favorite position would be at His feet. That became my special spot. The disciples and other followers became used to seeing me there. With time, they were even sweet enough to save that place just for me. When I was busy helping Martha, laughingly they'd even call out, "Come on, Mary. We know you want to be in here." And they were right. Even Martha, after our Lord's gentle admonishment to her, encouraged me to go.

He did have to call me to Himself only once. That was after our brother Lazarus' death. I was brokenhearted. I felt dead, too. I wasn't tomb bound, rather house bound. I couldn't even seem to move. On the fourth day after his burial, Jesus arrived. He called out for me. He called out for Lazarus. Both he and I came out of our tombs and lived once more.

Our Lord Jesus' words were and are electrifying! It was as if they not only pierced my mind, but simultaneously my heart. He knew me. His love transformed me. I'd look and listen to Him so intently that when He'd leave, it was as if He'd indelibly seared His image on and through me so that when I'd turn and look at others, and even myself, all I could sense was love - His LOVE! It lingered and it does linger on.

You've probably heard about the perfume pouring if you've heard anything about me. When I recall the act now, it still seems so natural, just as it seemed then. Extravagant? Don't be absurd! There was nothing extravagant in my act compared to the incomprehensible, extraordinary extravagance of our Lord's Redemptive Loving Act, which was soon about to take place.

I knew it. As a mother knows mysteries - women's intuition - whatever you want to call it. I knew it. I believe our Lord Jesus was crystal clear about His future - His crucifixion and His resurrection. It's just that most didn't want to hear. I heard. I acted. I poured out that expensive Nard in preparation for His burial. You too, Pilgrim, I bet would have done the same if you had heard.

"She did what she could." Mark 14:8a
"She has done a beautiful thing to Me." Mark 14:6b, Matthew 26:10
Humbly, Lord, I thank You for these words You spoke about me.
These sparrows continue to feed. So do I, Precious Pilgrim, on His Holy Word.

I know it's a busy season, for the celebration of our Lord Jesus' Birth is coming soon. Take time from the hectic pace and stay more focused in a holy place. I'll save a spot at His feet just for you.

Your sister in Christ,
Mary of Bethany

Bible verses on which to meditate: Matt. 26:6-13

Mark 14:3-9
Luke 10:38-42
John 11:1,2,19,20,28-33; 12:1-8