A woman named Martha welcomed Jesus into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks… The Lord answered her, “There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part.” – Luke 10:38-42 (NRSV, abridged)
“Well, Mimi,” he says, and launches us into another round of conversation. We had been trying to leave. Had already said goodbye. In his apartment. On his porch. Here on the sidewalk.
Now we’re talking again.
I am supposed to be working. I’m on a mission trip at Back Bay* in Biloxi, spending the week rehabbing a house, staffing the day center, volunteering in the food pantry.
We came to this man’s apartment to deliver a sofa and love seat. And we delivered them. Forty-five minutes ago! I’m feeling anxious, thinking there are more important things I should be doing.
But Mimi is not. She turns to listen to the man as if she has all the time in the world. As if she won’t see him tomorrow. As if she hadn’t seen him yesterday.
And she did.
Mimi is his caseworker. And yesterday she took pictures as, after ten years of being unhoused, this man turned the key to open his new apartment.
He has questions. He has plans. He has feelings. And she is here for all of it.
I take the cue, turn back, and listen. And I am reminded for the hundredth time this week that I am not here to move a sofa, or put down flooring, or stack cans. I am here for more important things.
God, stop me in my tracks and turn me toward my neighbor.
*Back Bay Mission is a United Church of Christ mission doing incredible work on Mississippi’s Gulf Coast. Since Covid-19, they have only a third of their usual church groups coming down to volunteer. Learn more about how you can support their work.