Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it?—every, every minute?
(from the play Our Town by Thornton Wilder)
What a question…a great, great question. Do they? Do we? Do I? It seems that if I did, it would make a world of difference in the way I went about living that life every day. It would affect the who and the what and particularly the how of every single minute of every single day. A few years ago I was sitting with a dear friend at my favorite table in my favorite restaurant and a similar question bubbled to the surface: “Are you living the life you want to live?” Of course the question was not about winning the lottery or living in a house on the beach, but more about, “In the life and the place you have been given, are you living the quality of life that you really want to live?” It is a question, not so much of circumstance, but of depth and quality, of priority and investment. And as we sat with that question and considered it deeply another question followed on its heels…”If not, why not?” Sometimes we live our lives feeling more like our lives are living us instead. Feeling like our life and our world is filled with things we really have no choice about; running frantically and busily from one thing to the next, out of control. I think that’s what Jesus was addressing at Martha’s house (Luke 10). Martha was distracted. The word for distracted, I am told, in this context can be more descriptively translated “to drag around.” Martha was feeling drug around. She had no choice…after all look at all that “has to be” done. But Jesus always has a much different perspective, a different way of seeing and of being. Look at what Jesus has to say to her: “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:41). It is almost as if Jesus is saying, “Martha, dear Martha, you are missing it. Realize life while you are living it. See what is truly primary and what is only secondary; what needs to be foreground and what has to be kept in the background; what is important versus what is merely urgent. Do not center your life on circumstances, or on duty, or need, or reputation, or agenda…center your life on me. Everything else, including the “to do list,” will take care of itself. You are worried and upset about many things…why is that? Come to me, the one needed thing—the best thing. Be with me, sit at my feet, listen to my words, look into my eyes, and allow the rest of your life to be determined by that.”