When I was trying to make sense of raising three children born within 26 months, I was part of something called The Martha Movement. That reference to Martha comes from the story of Mary and Martha in the Gospel of Luke 10:38-42.
Our rather small “movement” included three of us. While each of us saw ourselves as Christians; we could also see clearly that for us the Mary role would mean abandoning the strong calling we felt in being at home with several young children.
So, there are some of us for whom it is difficult to hear that story, because we know that for now we are the daughters and sons of Martha rather than Mary.
It appears that Rudyard Kipling also appreciated this tension when he wrote “The Sons of Martha” ( 1907). The poem is sentimental and perhaps not to 21st C tastes; but it offers a midrash — another reading that allows the tradition to move forward– which could give honor to the sons and daughters of BOTH Martha and Mary. Kipling is clearly on the side of the sons of Martha, and all but mocks the sons of Mary. I offer the poem in the hope that, as the last line of the poem, suggests, we need all the children of both Mary and Martha.
The clue to the value of Sons of Martha is offered by the posting after the poem: this poem is used by some engineers in a ritual to commemorate the “calling of an engineer.” That too, is service and ministry.
Follow the link to the poem and comments: