Search the Web

Friday, November 03, 2006

Mary, Martha, and Erma

I'm convinced that Mary and Martha in the Bible must have had another sister; or if they didn't, they should have. Erma.

Martha is the efficient one. Suzy Homemaker, if you will. She cleans, she cooks, and she probably chastises Mary for forgetting to bring her dishes to the sink. Then there's Mary, the gauzy-eyed one. If she forgets to bring her dishes to the sink or feed the goldfish, it isn't because she doesn't care, but because she's so absorbed in her love for Jesus that she forgets everything else. Her bathroom is very messy. Despite their differences, they are close. They love each other, and they complement each other. Even though Martha complains that Mary doesn't help out enough in the kitchen, let's face it: she doesn't really care for Mary's cooking anyway.

But they neglect to tell us about the third sister, who doesn't sterilize or gaze. Maybe it's because she's too busy cracking jokes, and the other sisters figure it's just as well if she's out of the house when important company comes. She isn't trendy, and she doesn't wear her hominess with sunshine and grace. She's a smart mouth, the kind that makes the family just a wee bit nervous.

Mary and Martha are probably just a little embarrassed by Erma. She makes fun of the Pharisees down the street for their silly little attitudes, and she tries to convince the Sadducees on the next block that there must be an afterlife, not through careful debate but by sarcasm. She shows up enthusiastically at the neighborhood parties, but instead of admiring all the women in this year's fashions she laughs at them. She complains that her kids are sloppy about setting the Sabboth table, and anyone who has a conversation with her wonders if it will be the subject of an anecdote later. But mostly, people are just a bit annoyed by her witty criticisms.

This third sister isn't homey and domestic, not in the way that Martha is. And with her penchant for talking and loud laughter, she could never be the quiet contemplative that Mary is. What neither Mary nor Marth realizes is that it isn't really judgment that causes her to hone her tongue, but insecurity. She doesn't help in the kitchen, not because she's lazy but because she can't seem to organize herself enough to get things done; and she doesn't sit and learn from important company because, although she'd really like to, she is already way behind in washing the pottery. She doesn't laugh because she thinks she is better than Mary or Martha; she laughs because she dares not cry.

Mary and Martha know their places, in the kitchen or in the front room. Erma is having a very long midlife crisis and doesn't know where she belongs. So she's thinking about starting a blog. Eventually, it had to come down to this.