I stand in the kitchen with my apron on, anxiously awaiting our guests.
Steaks sizzling on the grille. Broccoli steaming on the stove. Rolls in the oven. Pumpkin and apple pies, both my mother’s recipe, were baked this morning. I’ve scrubbed the toilets, vacuumed the living room, and washed the blankets. Everything seems to be ready for my teacher and dearest friend to arrive.
My sister and I hear a gentle knock three times on our front door. We both rush to answer; she opens the door and greets Jesus by leaping into his arms. My apron is dirty, so I hug him from the side, extending my hand to the living room. I shake the hands of each of his students, grabbing their coats as they enter.
The oven timer goes off. I grab Mary’s arm and say privately just to her “Can you grab the bread out of the oven?” I carry the pile of coats to the front guest room and throw them on the bed. I turn the corner back into the living room, and there sits Mary, sitting on the floor laughing with Jesus and his students.
“What is she doing??” I think to myself. I climb over the group of people to get from the living room to the kitchen. “Excuse me,” I say enunciating each syllable, hoping Mary notices the frustration in my tone. Yet the person who catches my eye is Jesus. His eyes are tender; they gaze at me almost as to invite a conversation. But I hear the oven timer go off again and I rush into the kitchen.
I rush into the kitchen and pull out the rolls. Only a few are burned, and I made a few extra anyways. Now the steaks well done instead of medium rare like I wanted, but it will have to do. I put everything on the table and put out the plates and silverware.
I poke my head around the corner and say “Dinner is ready!”
“Oh, why don’t we eat in here?” Mary responds. “We’re all having such a good time and having such good conversation. We can just eat in the living room.”
The thirteen men collectively stand up and move towards the kitchen. I can’t stop the mob mentality, but my heart aches a little when thinking of my steaks being treated as casually as a slice of frozen pizza. Each person grabs their plate and glass of wine, and moves back into the living room. Good thing I vacuumed.
Jesus, Mary and I go through the line last when we hear a commotion from the living room. Peter runs into the kitchen. “Martha!! Do you have a rag?? Andrew accidentally spilled his glass of wine all over your carpet.”
“Oh it’s fine; don’t worry about it,” says Mary.
“Don’t worry about it? You haven’t worried about anything all day! Of course you don’t need to worry because you’re not the one who needs to clean it up!”
Now there is an awkward silence in the room.
“Martha,” Jesus says to me, placing a hand on my shoulder. “Martha, you are so anxious and concerned about a million details. But really, only one thing matters. Mary has chosen that one thing, and it won’t be taken away from her.”
Jesus is the one to grab the rag from the kitchen sink, and he dabs at the stain in the carpet. Sure enough, the wine is lifted right out of the carpet. We eat our dinner and tell stories back and forth. I try not to notice when Thomas uses my favorite blanket as a napkin, or how the dishes remain unwashed in the sink.
After our guest’s departure, I return to plump the cushions, and Mary collects all the mugs of mostly-finished-coffee. There’s no need for words. In this space we count our blessings together from the crumbs of conversation, giving thanks for the gift of hospitality.