At all costs now, I want to avoid being casual. I don’t want to take anything for granted. I want to be in that state of awareness, readiness.
If you knew that you were about to enter the presence of God, the Spirit – Jesus, the Buddha, Nanak – how would you act? What would you do?
Tell him he’s a metaphor? Call Oprah? Tweet it?
A better question might be: would we even recognize an ascended master, their spirit of Love, of Freedom? We’d probably look right through them, right past them. We probably do. If we didn’t, who knows what would happen. We’d probably fall weeping, or run away, or call the cops. Get a Master’s Degree and a job and write a blog.
When Jesus came into Martha and Mary’s home, Martha worked furiously to clean and prepare and make it perfect. This is God! Meanwhile, Mary just sits beside him. They talk, they share. Maybe they pray. Why not? What else?
When Martha complains about working alone, Jesus gently admonishes her. Mary has taken “the better part,” he says. Both women knew who was there, but they had different ways of handling it. We can love both women, we can see ourselves in both women – that’s okay, probably necessary – but we have to see that there is nothing relative here. One way is not as good as another. It’s not all good. There is a right part, a better part.
So what is the better part?
Martha prepares a physical space. It’s okay – we all do it. Here are my crystals, there are my Tarot Cards. Here is my bible. There is my zafu. I’ve got a candle burning. There is my copy of A Course in Miracles.
Some people even go to churches or temples or public meditation spaces. They’re all the same because the altar is never in them. It’s never there. I remember walking through Europe years ago dumbfounded at the size and majesty of all the churches I saw. But you know what? A bunch of Martha’s made them!
Mary lets all that go, puts it behind her. Who cares? She’s like Andrew, John and Peter. Jesus says let’s go and they go, they don’t even say goodbye. How could you not drop what you were doing? Right? It makes sense. If you think about it, don’t make it complicated, don’t let relativity into it, you can see. It’s right action. It is.
And Mary is like that. She is just present to God, to the manifestation of God. It’s there and so she is. What else is there to do? Does God care if the tablecloth matches the napkins? If the fish is undercooked? If the bed is unmade? Maybe the pope cares, maybe the president does. But not God.
So it’s all a dream but this. This reality. When it calls, you follow. When it arrives, you sit with it. You can’t prepare for it. It doesn’t come because you keep your house clean or because you’ve got Tibetan peace flags hanging over the driveway. That crucifix means nothing to it. The zafu – what is that? A pillow for cats to sleep on?
Casualness is letting our attention drift. When we’re casual we avoid stillness, avoid awareness. There’s a good song on the radio. There’s a grudge worth nursing. There’s a business plan worth developing. Anything will do. Anything to keep our attention off it. Anything to be busy. Something needs cleaning, something must be worthy of complaint. I’ll get to it tomorrow. That’s what the future does – robs us of the present. Emily Dickinson knew it. She told us we could live in Eternity. “Forever – is composed of nows.”
Because it’s here. Jesus – Nanak – the Goddess – Shiva – whatever symbol of Love or Divine Peace or Joy resonates for you, it’s here. Right now. Drop everything – stop reading – fall to you knees and listen. See it. Hear it. Right? Why not? What does casualness bring us? Nothing. Not gratitude, not peace. Not love. What then?