by Kristin Berkey-Abbott
The reading for June 14 and 21:
Let's take a minute and think about all the women in the Gospels. There's the Samaritan woman at the well. There's Mary, the mother of Jesus, and Elizabeth, the mother of John. The sisters Mary and Martha make several appearances, and Mary Magdalene seems to play an important role here and there. There are women who seem to move comfortably within the circle of the disciples.
Look at the behavior of Jesus. He takes time to talk to the Samaritan woman. When Mary Magdalene is the only person at his graveside, he talks to her. What gets Martha so upset? That she's doing chores while her sister Mary sits and talks with Jesus.
I continue to think about Jesus and the Samaritan woman. I think about Jesus and his practice of being fully present to people. I think about how hard it is to be fully present in that way.
To be fully present means we'll have to talk to people who take us outside of our comfort zones. Often it means we'll have to hear about unpleasant emotions that come from other people, and we will be able to do absolutely nothing.
Nothing--but to be present to others.
In my much younger years, I admired Jesus the radical. I wanted to follow the Jesus who threw the moneychangers out of the temple. I was happy to call everyone out on their hypocrisy.
Ah, the pride of the young who think they know everything.
But now that I am older, I want to follow Jesus in the practice of being fully present. It's much harder. So much competes for our attention.
As I go back through the Gospels, I'm struck again and again by the capacity of Christ to be present to everyone. He doesn't seem to have a sense of social ranking--in fact, the Samaritan woman coming alone to the well was likely one of the lowest on the social rankings. But Jesus spends time with her.
Jesus was willing to spend time with everyone--but the Gospels remind us again and again of how few people were willing to be present to him.
Not only do I want to be present for others, but I want to be present for the Divine. I want to stay alert. I want to notice when Jesus comes to the neighborhood well.