I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate…So, I find it to be a law that when I want to do what is good, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God in my inmost self, but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind, making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! (Romans 7.15, 21-25)
The 2 sit facing every day,
every moment of the day,
save when one or the other turns (or both turn) away
each from the other;
unable, for those instants (tho’ it can be longer),
to stand (to withstand)
that each is wholly other to the other.
One, a passionate compassionate
(a bridge o’er the troubled water between Mary and Martha),
a contemplative actor and active contemplative,
who lives (who wills and watches and waits) to give
all that he is and has
for the sake of others’
want and need
to be freed
from life’s ills
body and mind, soul and spirit.
One, the other
(aye, so other as to be another),
a principally unprincipled self-interested soul
whose need is grounded in the greed
that yearns to bend the world to will,
to bring the world under heel
to be the ground ripe for the planting of egocentric seed.
When I most quail
on the desolated, desolate soil
of this, my daily uncivil war,
I rest in trust that there is a promised armistice
on one sure comin’ day
when the fullness of Calvary’s sacrifice
shall be mine forever.
But in the meantime…
Endnote: a bridge o’er the troubled water between Mary and Martha is a reference to the story of Jesus visiting the home of Mary and Martha (Luke 10.38-42). As Mary, whom I perceive as a contemplative, listened to Jesus’ teaching, Martha, whom I view as active (that is, as a doer), busily preparing a meal for her guest, protested to Jesus about her idle sister, demanding that he direct her to help. Jesus replied, “Martha, you are worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part.” A traditional interpretation is that attentiveness to God’s word is valued more greatly than hyper (that is, frantic) busyness, though the aim is honorable. I choose to meld the strengths of Mary and Martha, thus, being a contemplative (always focused on life’s calling and purpose) who acts (in the world for good) and an actor who is contemplative.