But Jesus answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things.” Luke 10:41
Every now and then I am alert enough to pick up on patterns happening in my world. A couple of weeks ago, I started noticing a recurring theme in things I have been reading and listening to. It started week before last when I read an article that said that more and more millennials are abandoning their social media platforms. Then, later in that same week I found myself watching an interview with Arianna Huffington. She had experienced a breakdown and was speaking about how she believes that we “take better care of our phones and other electronic devices than we do our bodies and minds.” She suggested that we do two simple things that could improve our emotional and mental health. The first is to gently walk our phones out of our bedrooms before we go to bed. The second is to rest for a moment when we awaken and silently give thanks for the new day ahead.
Then, as if that wasn’t enough, last week CBS This Morning aired a new series with John Dickerson exploring ways to disengage from our electronic devices and discover new ways of connecting with each other. Studies now show that taking breaks from our phones and other electronic devices, including watching television, improves our focus and creativity. As part of their opening episode of the series they interviewed Catherine Price, author of How to Break Up with Your Phone. She had some very important things to say about how to use our electronic connections in a responsible way that will enhance our lives rather than take away from meaningful living.
Of course, this is not new. In the Gospel of Luke, we hear the story of Jesus visiting the home of his friends, Mary, Martha and Lazarus in Bethany. While Jesus was teaching, Mary sat at his feet, and Martha, a dutiful woman, was in the kitchen preparing a meal. When Martha complains to Jesus that Mary is not helping her, he replied, ““Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things.” Now, I’m sure that Jesus knew that someone needed to prepare dinner for the evening, but perhaps Jesus’ words to Martha are important for us to hear.
Are we worried and distracted by many things? Perhaps Jesus didn’t want Martha to stop doing her work, but to not be consumed by it. Perhaps Jesus would say to us today, “You don’t have to abandon those things that keep you connected to the world. Rather, don’t be worried and consumed by them.”
Last week while on vacation in Colorado I was riding a gondola down from the mountain top. As the five of us, all strangers, rode down the mountain I noticed that every person on the gondola was glued to their phones while the majesty of creation was passing us by. When did that happen to us? What are we going to do to change it? Jesus would say, “you are worried and distracted by many things.”
Holy One, help me to take small steps to reclaim my life. Help me to let go of my worries and distractions so that I may discover a deeper and more meaningful life with you and others. Amen.