Wednesday, October 20, 2004

The Sons of Martha

The Bible tells us this story in Luke 10:38-42 :

Mary and Martha, the sisters of Lazarus(He is best known for being raised from the grave four days after his death by Jesus), were entertaining Jesus and his disciples. Martha rushed about the kitchen and household, seeing to the cooking, bringing wash basins, changing towels, and doing the other things needful when one's home has been unexpectedly invaded by a celebrity and his entourage.Mary simply sat at Jesus feet, and heard his word.

Martha was strained and asked Jesus "Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? Bid her therefore that she help me."Jesus supposedly said "Martha, thou are careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her."

Hmm..Reminded me of Milton's "They Also Serve who stand and wait.."

Can you unravel the cryptic meaning in this poem by Rudyard Kipling written in 1907.
The Sons of Mary seldom bother, for they have inherited that good part;
But the Sons of Martha favour their Mother of the careful soul and the troubled heart.
And because she lost her temper once, and because she was rude to the Lord her Guest,
Her Sons must wait upon Mary's Sons, world without end, reprieve, or rest.

It is their care in all the ages to take the buffet and cushion the shock.
It is their care that the gear engages; it is their care that the switches lock.
It is their care that the wheels run truly; it is their care to embark and entrain,
Tally, transport, and deliver duly the Sons of Mary by land and main.

They say to mountains ``Be ye removèd.'' They say to the lesser floods ``Be dry.''
Under their rods are the rocks reprovèd---they are not afraid of that which is high.
Then do the hill-tops shake to the summit---then is the bed of the deep laid bare,
That the Sons of Mary may overcome it, pleasantly sleeping and unaware.

They finger Death at their gloves' end where they piece and repiece the living wires.
He rears against the gates they tend: they feed him hungry behind their fires.
Early at dawn, ere men see clear, they stumble into his terrible stall,
And hale him forth like a haltered steer, and goad and turn him till evenfall.

To these from birth is Belief forbidden; from these till death is Relief afar.
They are concerned with matters hidden---under the earthline their altars are---
The secret fountains to follow up, waters withdrawn to restore to the mouth,
And gather the floods as in a cup, and pour them again at a city's drouth.

They do not preach that their God will rouse them a little before the nuts work loose.
They do not preach that His Pity allows them to drop their job when they damn-well choose.
As in the thronged and the lighted ways, so in the dark and the desert they stand,
Wary and watchful all their days that their brethren's ways may be long in the land.

Raise ye the stone or cleave the wood to make a path more fair or flat;
Lo, it is black already with the blood some Son of Martha spilled for that!
Not as a ladder from earth to Heaven, not as a witness to any creed,
But simple service simply given to his own kind in their common need.

And the Sons of Mary smile and are blessèd---they know the Angels are on their side.
They know in them is the Grace confessèd, and for them are the Mercies multiplied.
They sit at the feet---they hear the Word---they see how truly the Promise runs.
They have cast their burden upon the Lord, and---the Lord He lays it on Martha's Sons!


Anonymous said...

There are those who dig their pleasure and sweat.
There are those who beg their honor and rot.
And there is this snitch, who does neither,
But sit on the hill dressed as a conjurer
Turning the beggars to sheep,
Counting them for his dinner and sleep.

They also serve who stand and wait.
But look at yourself before you eat.
What have you become?
With that bowl in your hand
You are a beggar at the step of every door.
With those chains on your wrists
You are a snitcher in the queues of every prison.

Sons of Martha churned the ocean,
Breathing the vapors of venom,
In search of Amrita.
While the sons of Mary stirred their bowels,
Rolling on the beds of foam,
In dreams of the same Amrita.

Those who went in search found it and renounced it.
As they knew they don't need it, they are ever alive.
Those who slept in dearth begged it and snatched it.
They thought they smiled.
But forgot they can't take it, they are already dead.

- Another son of the sons!

Anonymous said...

This may be what a lot of Christian religions believe in some form or another, but not
Christian Science. The God or Christ of CS would never "lay" suffering or hardship
on anyone for any reason because God knows suffering not! God is only LOVE!
It is we who choose to suffer. But this was very poetic and well written- Kipling knew
his craft...

Anonymous said...

me's always been a fan of martha, rather than mary :) but i guess the point JC was trying to make was that sometimes we get so bogged down by the things that we do, the people that we are, that we don't look at the needs of our spirit..
and kipling has a beautiful way with words,but i still beg to disagree :)


Paddy said...

[Priyanka] I do agree that spirit needs to be nurtured.In fact the whole poem's point is to show that there are multiple kinds of aristocracy.. methinks..