Jael Remembers

Ah, I have lived too long. Better that I would sleep the long sleep beside my Heber. Because now again comes war and rumors of worse. Now again these descendants of one ancestor, all children of earth’s first man, fight over their father’s earth. And my daughter, my gentle daughter, weeps and prepares her household for war. They gather their flocks, their children, their servants close. The men sharpen their swords.

They encourage each other with stories of past victories. Joshua at Jericho and Ai, the sun standing still, southern and northern kingdoms conquered. They chant the names of 31 defeated kings. They tell of taking Jerusalem, of putting the city to the sword and setting it on fire. They tell of Shamgar, son of Anath, who struck down six hundred Philistines with an oxgoad and saved Israel. And they tell of me, they call me most blessed among women.

My mother called me headstrong. My father worried that no dowry would be large enough to entice a man to put up with my outspoken opinions, my brash ways. But my Heber wanted me, just as I was. He laughed and told me that he loved my strength, my intelligence, my courage and energy. How I loved him, my strong and gentle Heber. Our youngest daughter takes after him.

We lived for a time among my husband’s kin, descendants of Cain, whom the Israelites called a murderer. Among my husband’s kin Cain was not known as a murderer but as a wanderer, one who could not settle to raise crops or tend flocks. My Heber, he was the gentlest of men, but a true descendant of Cain. We laughed a lot, we worked a lot, we made a lot of children – and we moved a lot. Sometimes for better pasture for our flock, sometimes for cooler air, sometimes for better water sources.

Once, once we moved just to spend some time near a beautiful tree – a terebinth, grown tall and wide over time. There was a good stream nearby, flowing into the Kishon River, there were pastures for grazing, shade from the sun, and lots of room for our tents and our children.

But the land was restless again, with talk of a new war between Jaban, king of Canaan, and the Israelites, who wanted Canaan all for their own. These Israelites worship a strange god, a jealous god who wants only his own people in Canaan. So the Israelites don’t just conquer others, they slaughter them and drive them out. Still, they are not bad people, they can be generous, sharing what they have with widows, orphans, beggars and strangers. But their god is a jealous god and is easily angered.

One strange thing I remember from that strange time: the Israelites had no king. They had a strong general named Barak but their real leader was a woman named Deborah. She settled all their disputes and their god talked to her. My Heber would laugh and tell me that I would make a good Deborah.

I remember Sisera’s nine hundred chariots fitted with iron. Sisera was Jaban’s general, as Barak was Deborah’s. Sisera was a proud, cruel man, used to taking what he wanted, used to fighting, used to winning. Barak and Deborah came with 10,000 men to challenge him. Heber said they were crazy, driven on by their crazy god. They had 10,000 men but Sisera had Jaban’s army and those nine hundred chariots fitted with iron. That is what everyone talked of, those chariots. Who can win, they asked, against nine hundred chariots fitted with iron.

Ha! Nine hundred chariots fitted with iron became nine hundred deathtraps when the Kishon overflowed its banks and flooded the battleground. The Israelites sing of that day: the day that Barak and Deborah’s army killed every one of Sisera’s men. I’m not sure that part is true, but it makes a good song.

We knew nothing of this at the time, although the battle was not far off. We were watchful. We kept the children and livestock close to the camp. We readied everything in case we had to flee quickly. But all we saw was one man, one filthy man, running, stumbling into our camp. He named himself Sisera, proud general still, and demanded that we care for him and hide him until his men rallied and came for him.

You don’t refuse a general who has nine hundred chariots fitted with iron. Our servants bathed him and cleaned his clothes. We prepared a meal for him and Heber and our sons. My daughters and I served the men, of course.

I watched Sisera watching our Hurriya. She was only 8 years old but his eyes were hungry as he watched her. He asked her name, he told her how pretty she was, he told her what a fine life she could have in Jaban’s court. Then he asked Heber about her dowry. I could see my Heber, I knew my Heber, he was ready to explode.

We were not poor but we were not rich either. We came from fine, respectable people, but we were not a noble family. If Hurriya went to Jaban’s court, it would be as a concubine, not as a wife. She would soon become little better than a slave. Maybe offered to favored soldiers. This is not what we wanted for any of our daughters, but especially not for Hurriya, our youngest.

But what of Sisera’s men? What of those nine hundred chariots fitted with iron? I imagined those chariots storming up just as my husband and sons challenged Sisera. They would all be slaughtered and then my daughters and I, we would be worse than concubines.

I caught Heber’s eye and slowly, with just the smallest movement, shook my head. And I smiled. And Heber knew. He knew he could leave it to me.

The rest you know, the rest they still sing of. The invitation for Sisera to hide in my tent while I stood guard. The spiced – and drugged – drink. The hammer. The tent peg I pounded into his temple as he slept his drugged sleep in my bed.

I was ready, the next morning, ready to take the blame. To be the only one to take the blame. Better leave my family without a mother than without a father.

But those fabled iron-clad chariots never came. Mud, it turns out, defeats iron-clad chariots rather easily. Sisera’s men never came. Barak came. And Deborah. When they saw what I had done, they honored me. And Barak said with wonder, “It is as Deborah foretold. Sisera met his fate at the hands of a woman.”

We have lived among them for forty years now. My daughters married their sons. My grandchildren worship their jealous god. I myself am still honored, though I was just a mother, protecting her child.

And now I will face this new war with that child and her family. When they ask I will tell my story. I will listen to their songs. I will listen to the song that tells of my part; the song that ends, “So may all your enemies perish, YAHWEH! But may all who love you be like the sun when it rises in its strength.” I am Jael, and I remember.

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The Woman Caught

Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him and he sat down and began to teach them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery; and making her stand before all of them, they said to him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They said this to test him, so that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once again he bent down and wrote on the ground. When they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the elders; and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus straightened up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, sir.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.” John 8:2-11

Sometimes I wish he had let them stone me.
Sometimes I wish I could go again to my lover.
Sometimes I pray for death.

Once I was beautiful.
Once I was young.
Once I was wealthy.

I had a husband.
I had children.
I had a lover.

My husband divorced me.
My children won’t speak to me.
My lover, ah my young lover…

Who is he with?
Has he married?
Does he love her, as once he…

No, those memories are forbidden.
That life is dead.
That person, the woman I was then…

I need to remember my terror.
I need to remember my shame.
It is easy to remember their cruelty.

I remember their plot.
How they tried to use me.
How they hated and feared him.

They talked but not to me.
They dragged me.
They despised me.

They shouted but he spoke softly.
They stood proud and straight.
He stooped and fingered the ground.

They argued but he kept writing.
He spoke and they went away.
One by one they went away.

I was so scared.
I groveled, waiting for the first stone.
I don’t remember what he said.

Until he asked me who condemned me.
I looked up and they were all gone.
Even my husband had slunk away.

I said no one who condemned me is here.
He said then he did not condemn me.
He said go and sin no more.

But then they killed him.
He died on a Roman cross.
And his mercy died with him.

Now I do not sin.
Now I beg for crumbs.
Now I wait for death.

Sometimes I think stoning would have been better.
Sometimes I wish for a faster death.
Sometimes I hate him for saving me.

He saved me but could not save himself.
Though Mary says he lives still.
Mary says she talked to him.

Mary reminds me of him.
She has the same gentle strength.
Maybe I will go with her, as she asks.

Go to the people who believe he still lives.
My savior still lives.
Can it be true?

I Went

[Jesus left that place and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon. Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon.” But he did not answer her at all. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, “Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” He answered, “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered her, “Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed instantly. Matthew 15:21-28]

My husband said, “Do not go.”
My mother said, “Do not go.”
My friends said, “Do not go.”
Still I went.

“The Jews will spit on you.”
“They will not let you near him.”
“He will not even look at you.”
Still I went.

“Do not humble yourself
Before the accursed Jews.
Do not waste your time.”
Still I went.

I went without hope
But with my great need
Because my daughter suffered.
So I went.

She writhed and twisted
She raved and cursed
She grew thin and dirty.
So I went.

A mother does not need hope.
A mother does not need faith.
A mother only needs love.
So I went.

And they did curse me
They pushed me aside
They called me a dog.
When I went.

I begged for crumbs
I groveled without hope
With only love.
When I went.

He met my love with hope
He named my love faith
And he did as I asked.
When I went.

Now I watch her play
I hear her laugh
I sing songs with her.
Because I went.

Anna, Daughter of Adah and Phanuel

I was married, you know. I was just 14. I barely remember that young girl. I remember they said she was pretty. I remember they told my mother, Adah, and my father, Phanuel, that they had raised a good woman, that I would be a good wife. I remember they said “Mazal tov” when I married. But they also said I would bear many children, they said my womb would be fruitful. So what did they know?

That was 70 years ago. Imagine, 70 years! Oy vavoy! Solomon could have built himself ten temples in that time. And still I live.

I am old now but, Jeremiah, my husband, he was still young when he died. Seven years we had been married, seven years and only then was I with child. But our child died too, without ever being born, when Jeremiah died. So I was cursed.

What could I do? So deep was I unclean, so ugly did I feel, that I went to the temple. I went to be clean again, I went to feel pretty again, I went to hope again. And I am still here. Where is there hope for me in Israel? Seventy years I have lived here in the temple, remembering what it felt like to be loved, hoping for something like love again.

My best times are with the babies. So many parents come to the temple, as required by the Law, with their firstborn sons and their turtledoves. Some come shyly, some come boldly, some come richly dressed, some come in rough cloth, some come slowly, some hurry. Always, I try to greet them, to smile at their child. To speak kind words. Sometimes, they do not want to speak to me, to let me see the babe, to hear my words of gentle praise. Sometimes they are in a hurry. Sometimes they are too shy, country people scared of the city, the Temple. Sometimes they just do not care.

Ah, but sometimes, praise be, sometimes, they let me hold the little one. They ask my blessing. They smile and thank me quietly. I carry those times in my heart. I give thanks for those times, thanks for their chesed, their loving kindness.

And I wait. Every little time of chesed gives me the small courage I need to continue with my long, slow life, although there are many times when I would rather not.

Simeon, he waits also. Waits and hopes. But he waits for the king of Israel. He hopes for the warrior king who will throw the Romans out. He is so certain that the king will come in his lifetime. Usually, he ignores the poor parents, the ones from the country. He watches carefully whenever a rich family, an important family, a particularly religious family, comes with a babe. He blesses the babe, he prays, he hopes. And always he is disappointed. But still, he says the king will come before our Sovereign Lord calls him home.

Me, I don’t need that kind of hope. Why would I want Israel to rise up against the Romans? Oy, what blood would flow, how many would die. Those babes from years ago, young men now, how many of them would die on a Roman spear or, worse, a Roman cross? No, I do not hope for a king, just for some chesed, for myself and for the young families.

And then, today, a strange thing happened. A family came with their firstborn son. A poor family, with their turtledoves. His mother and father seemed like good people. They reminded me of people I knew long ago, they reminded me of myself and my Jeremiah. So young, so full of love and hope.

Their eyes when they looked at their babe! They do not need their little one to be any more than their son. They do not need him to be a great warrior or Israel’s savior or our king. I could see it in their eyes, in the way the mother held him, in the way the father kept his arm around them both. It is enough for them that he is healthy, that he grow strong, that he be a good man, that he love our one true Lord.

I knew Simeon would ignore them. They were so obviously poor, so obviously country, so obviously unimportant. But what do I know? The Lord can still surprise me, I guess. Because Simeon, he did not ignore them. As I was starting towards them, Simeon strode up to them, so confident, so righteous. He took the babe right out of the mother’s arms and he started giving thanks, lifting that babe up and giving praise with strange words, “Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.

The poor father and mother. They didn’t know what to do. You could see they wanted to take their babe back, but they didn’t want to offend a holy man. Simeon, he carried on for awhile, in his way, talking about the glory of Israel and a warrior king like David. Talking about an uprising, battles and victories and fallen warriors. The young parents were starting to be terrified, I could see it. Finally, finally, he gave the babe back to his mother, saying to her, “And a sword will pierce your own soul too.

And then he walked away. He said those terrible words to that young mother and he just walked away, back into the inner temple, back to his prayers.

I went up to them then. I went slowly, gently. I didn’t grab the babe out of his terrified mother’s arms. I smiled at them. I told them their son was beautiful. I asked his name. Yeshua, a good name. I asked where they were from. They told me they lived in Nazareth but their son had been born in Bethlehem and his father was indeed in the line of David. Ah, I said, so he is your wonderful son and he is our Lord’s treasure. I know you will love him well and he will grow in wisdom and strength. I can tell you are good people and he too will be a good person. And who knows, maybe old Simeon is right, maybe he will be good for many in Israel and maybe you will know sadness, but right now, enjoy each other and this beautiful babe that our gracious Lord has given you. That is enough for now.

The young father thanked me and the young mother, she gently put the babe in my arms and asked my blessing for him. Ah, the sweet warm weight, the wonder and miracle of a baby in my arms. Just a poor babe. No king. No warrior. But still, today, my heart is filled with the Lord’s chesed and I am thankful for young families. Even though I know, too well, that sometimes the future brings hardship and sorrow, still there is joy in the beginning; there is always joy and hope and the Lord’s loving kindness with a loved child.

Sarah and Zacchaeus

[This short story combines two New Testament stories and characters, and the tradition of St. Veronica.]

I am Sarah, my husband is Zaccheaus. We are rich. We have money but that is not why we are rich. We have faith, we have the veil and I am Sarah and not savah. That is why we are rich. Others tell our story, but they mix up parts or leave parts out. I will tell you our true story.

It had been twelve years of struggle, then twelve years of something like happiness and then twelve years of shame when we met him and now again it is twelve years since he died and then was not dead. So it is time to tell our story.

But I don’t know where to start. With my childhood in my father’s Jericho home, learning to be a faithful Hebrew woman, learning the laws, waiting to be betrothed? With my betrothal to Zacchaeus, the man my father chose for me? My father said he was a fine young Hebrew man, faithful to God and the synagogue, not above himself. I thought he was very small, but he had kind eyes.

With my children? Four children in as many years. Three lived and became fine people, long gone from our house.

With Zacchaeus becoming a tax collector for the Romans? Oh, how my father raged, how my mother wept, how Zacchaeus’ own parents raged and wept. Our neighbors no longer trusted us. Zacchaeus stopped going to synagogue because no one would stand near him. The women looked on me with pity. Other children taunted our children. But we moved from our old neighborhood to a better one. We told ourselves, Zacchaeus and I, that the others were jealous, that we were doing what was right for our children. On market day, I was proud. I could buy the best fruits and vegetables, good cloth, new sandals every year for the children. I looked in my husband’s eyes and if I no longer saw kindness, I saw pride and I knew he saw his pride reflected in my eyes. Sometimes, it hurt that we were kadesh, cast out, shunned. Sometimes, I saw the sadness in Zacchaeus’ eyes and I knew he too felt kadesh. But we told each other often that we were lucky and we were happy and we were wealthy and we were good parents and we were good people before God. We were not kadesh to each other or to God.

I am a woman so every month when I was not with child, I was niddah for those days when I bled. Afterwards, each month, I went to the mikveh and cleansed myself, ignoring the looks from the other women. I held my head high, I would not let them see that their scorn hurt me. I was Zacchaeus’ wife and Zacchaeus was rich and our children had good clothes and good sandals.

Until that day when the bleeding did not stop. The day I became not just Sarah but savah, unclean. For one week, then two. Now I was kadesh from my husband and my household, for I was unclean. But we were rich and Jericho has the best doctors in Israel. Ah, the remedies, the prayers, the tears, the blood, always the blood. No man could touch me, of course, but the doctors did not need to touch me, did not need to come near me. The doctors knew which herbs I should prepare, which river I should wash in, which sacrifices Zacchaeus should make, which balm I should use. Zacchaeus could afford it all, even the balm of Gilead, even the pilgrimage to Jerusalem to sacrifice at the temple. But not even Gilead’s balm, nor the temple sacrifice, stopped the blood. Days became weeks, weeks became months, months became years. The children grew tall and strong. Bar mitzvahs and betrothals were celebrated – without me. Because still I bled. Zacchaeus collected taxes and spent a fortune on doctors. And still I bled.

My husband had tired eyes then, but he still had kindness for his family in him. We could not sit together, we could not eat together, we could not lie together, we could not be husband and wife together. But still he spoke with me, still he paid for every new doctor, still he sacrificed in the temple for me. And one day, twelve long years after the bleeding did not stop, he told me about a man. Not a doctor but a prophet and healer. A man who said strange things sometimes but who also healed lepers and drove out demons. A Nazarene named Yeshua who said he was the Son of God. A Nazarene! We might have laughed, twelve years before, we might have laughed at a Nazarene claiming he was the Son of God. But the laughter had stopped when the blood did not.

“I will go to him,” I said. “I will go to this healer in Nazareth.” But Zacchaeus said that was impossible. It would take me more than a week even on a donkey; even if I made the ridiculous journey, what would I do when I got there? This man, this healer, he was famous now, he would be surrounded by many people, many men. How could I hope to get near the healer without touching a man and making him unclean? I could not risk that further sin. I knew all of that, but I also knew I must go. So my kind Zacchaeus arranged it. I traveled to Nazareth.

My husband was right, there were many people. I heard people say that the man at the front of the crowd, talking with this Yeshua, was  Jairus, the leader of the synagogue. I heard that Jairus’ daughter was sick, dying, that Jairus had consulted all the doctors and none could help. I knew what that felt like. I heard them say that Jairus was desperate enough to ask this Nazarene for help. I knew what that, too, felt like.

No one knew me; no one knew I was savah as I pushed through the crowd. I heard someone say that they had seen him touch a paralyzed man and the man walked. Trembling, I pushed through the crowd. I heard a woman tell of how she heard those with him talk of how he had saved them from drowning by quieting a lake storm. Curious, I pushed through the crowd. I heard that Yeshua had healed a leper and that a rabbi had acknowledged the man was cleansed. Not daring to hope but hoping, I pushed through the crowd. I heard that he spoke of God with authority and I crept up behind him and reached out my hand and let my fingers graze the back of his cloak. And I knew, I knew, I knew, I felt it and I knew. I was Sarah and I was not savah. The blood stopped flowing, my strength returned. I stood still and closed my eyes as the crowd pushed past me. I just wanted to stand there and be well.

But Yeshua stopped too. He stopped just a few feet from me so that the crowd around me almost fell over themselves, almost knocked me down. And he asked, “Who touched me?” The men who were with him laughed at him and said, “Who touched you? Who touched you? Look around. There are people pressing in on us on every side. Many people have touched you. What are you talking about?” But Yeshua turned and looked at me and said, “Someone who needed healing touched me, for I felt the power go out from me.” And I fell to my knees for I knew, I knew that I had been healed and I had been saved and I was loved. I told him, I told him everything, even though I knew he already knew. And he smiled and he told me, but not really me because I already knew, he said so that everyone else would know, he said, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.” And I went home, home to Zacchaeus. Home to start the ritual cleansing. I went to a home that could now be a true home for my husband and me.

My Zacchaeus, he was filled with wonder at my news, at my joy and my strength. For I stood straight and proud, with no pain, for the first time in twelve long years. “I should have gone with you, Sarah. I wish I had seen this Nazarene, this prophet, this Yeshua for myself,” he said.

A few months later we heard that Yeshua was in Jericho. Zacchaeus went, as soon as he heard the news, just wanting to see him. But my Zacchaeus, he is so short and the crowd was so large, he couldn’t get even a glimpse of the prophet. So my resourceful, clever Zacchaeus climbed a tree! And then Yeshua looked up and saw him and spoke to him. But that is not all. Yeshua did not care what others thought of my Zacchaeus; Yeshua came to our house and broke bread, shared a meal with us. No one was pleased by this, except myself and my Zacchaeus. In his heart of heart, for his family, my husband had always been a good man. But that day, he became again a good man, a generous man, a true son of Abraham, for everyone. That day salvation came to our house.

That was in Kislev, mid winter, twelve years ago. By Nissan that year Yeshua was arrested in Jerusalem. We were there, Zacchaeus and I, for Pasech. We did not like to be separated now that we could again be husband and wife together, so I had gone with him to Jerusalem.

Even now, twelve years later, I cannot easily speak of the horror of that time. Even knowing the wonder that came after, the horror, the sadness never really leaves me. We watched, we listened, we cried, we tried to talk sense into others and we were almost stoned for our efforts. We followed him to Golgotha. We saw his shredded back, his bleeding head, the blood dripping down his face, into his eyes. We saw him fall and I could not help myself. I ran to him and used my veil to wipe his face. As once he had cleansed my blood, so I cleansed his. Once again, he looked at me and knew me. Even in his great pain, even there near the end, he knew me. Then the Roman soldiers pushed me back, back into Zacchaeus’ strong arms.

We saw him die. For two days we mourned, too stunned to even cry, too broken to even think about going home. Then we began to hear an incredible story. We began to hear that he lived. But we had seen him die. We spoke with Mary from Magdala, we spoke with Mary and Martha and Lazarus from Bethany, we spoke with Peter and John and Thomas. And, though we had not seen him ourselves, we understood. Our hearts understood what our heads had been too slow to know. Because our hearts knew Yeshua. We knew his heart and we knew that his love still lived.

We are old now, my Zacchaeus and I. Soon now we will die. I hear our stories told by others, some who knew Yeshua, some who only have learned of him from others. They tell our stories but sometimes they forget the whole story and just tell the parts. So here, before I die, I wanted to tell our own whole, true story. So that you can understand how very rich we are, my sweet Zacchaeus and I, and how we became so rich.

Magdala

They tell of my seven demons
But not of the men who put them there
From before my moon-bleeds started

They say I followed him
Followed? He called me beloved
As we walked side by side

They claim I stood at a distance as he died
But they were not there and did not see
Our eyes close the soldiered distance

They know I hurried to his tomb with first light
But the spices I carried were not for him alone
Never should either of us be alone again

After that I disappear from their telling
My love they resurrected
But me they left, unbelieved, in the empty tomb

I am their Jonah
Jetsam, willingly sacrificed
To their terrible need

Swallowed by their behemoth pride
I ride secretly in the belly of their power
Anointing the others as they arrive

Scared, shivering wretches, women all
Who lack the upthrusted harpoon
That draws the blood and water from his dead body

But blood soaked rooms do not scare us
In their secret darkness
We create life

Our winding grave sheets
Are but placenta
Feeding hope

One day, unconquered, unburied
We will spew forth
To bless, to heal, to consecrate

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Martha

What do you know of me?
As if I even have to ask
(I wish I had been named Mary
All of the good stories are told about Marys)

Let me tell you what you know of me
You know that I was worried and distracted.
You know that I complained – complained to HIM
That my sister (who is, of course, named Mary)
Wasn’t doing woman’s work.
You know that he rebuked me
“Martha, Martha…there is need of only one thing.”
You think that all he ever said to me was
That Mary had chosen better?
(Well of course she had
She had chosen to act like a man
Who can sit at the feet of a rabbi
And think and learn and question.
I guess I should have acted like a man
Sat at his feet and waited –
Waited for him to bless more loaves and fishes
Turn more water into wine
And, while he was at it, clean up everything.)

Oh, sweet Jesus, I do not want this bitterness,
Help thou my bitterness.

Do you remember that I went to meet him
In the dark time after Lazarus died, before he lived again?
I went because I trusted in his love
I believed in his power
I knew who and what he is
Do you remember that?
Do you remember that I was the one
Me
Who went back and got Mary,
Who wouldn’t leave off crying
Told her that she should go to him
That he wanted to see her
Or do you only remember that he rebuked me
Again
Just because I got scared
(I was always a worrier, always the practical one)
Scared of what we would see – and smell
When that stone was rolled away.

(I wish I had been named Mary.
Maybe then I wouldn’t have been the practical one.)

Maybe then I wouldn’t have been the one
Who waited on them at dinner
Made sure everyone had enough to eat.
I thought that was the right, the loving thing to do;
I thought that was what I, a woman, could do for him.
I served them all, all those he loved and trusted
And that is all they tell of me, “Martha served.”
But of Mary they tell how she anointed his feet with pure nard
(They don’t mention that she purchased it with my household money)
And how she dried his feet with her hair
(Which I, of course, later had to help her wash)

I do love her, Lord, help thou my unlove.

I am who I am
I am as I was made to be
Mostly I enjoy serving others
Always I love him
I just don’t like the way
The men choose to remember me
As a woman they can despise
For being like most women.

[Luke 10:38-42; John 11:1-45 and 12:1-8]