Last Friday I couldn’t believe my eyes. I got closer and watched this beautiful Monarch butterfly flitting around on my lilac bush. Because of the unusually warm fall we’ve had, one of my lilac bushes was covered with tiny blossoms in November. I thought to myself, “wow, you are really lost little guy. You should be hundreds of miles away from here. Maybe you were distracted from your flight by the flowers.”
Some Monarch butterflies actually have a short lifespan. It is the fourth generation that migrates from as far north as Canada to as far south as Mexico….2000 to 2500 miles! Their sense of smell and vision help them to assess the environment. But how these butterflies take a particular direction for migration is an unsolved mystery. Either by instinct or programming, it is fulfilling its purpose.
Do you find yourself getting distracted by all the social media, advertisements, extra expectations and responsibilities that the holidays often bring? More and more the sales industry wants to push past Thanksgiving right into the mass hysteria of Christmas shopping! It doesn’t need to be that way and it shouldn’t.
Thanks giving should be a time of truly being grateful for friends and family, health and good food. Even if this past year has held many challenges and difficulties we can still find things to be thankful for. It is also the one holiday that seems to require the gift of hospitality since people travel all over the country to be together.
We can read about hospitality and distractions in the book of Luke.
38 As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed them into her home.39 Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught.40 But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.”41 But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details!42 There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Luke 10:38-42 (NLT)
Martha often gets a bad rap by the way people retell the story. Let’s look closer. Jesus and his disciples are traveling and staying at the home of Martha and her family. That means at least 13 hungry men were coming for dinner. Common rules of hospitality would require you to invite the village to come and hear such an important man speak. We do not know how many people were actually there! As head of the home and Hostess it was Martha’s responsibility to provide a space to sit, and enough food and drink for her guests. Jesus did not say stop cooking and come sit next to Mary. He gently tells her that she is missing the point of the party and missing the joy of serving. She is missing spending time with her guests. We don’t know but I like to think that after awhile Jesus looked at Mary with a smile and said, “Be a good girl and go help your sister before she has a meltdown”.
I love Martha because I can relate to her story! I am guilty of trying so hard to make everything “just right” that I get overwhelmed, crabby and then I kind of crash. I love to have people in my home but then I don’t enjoy the outcome and my guests. So what’s the purpose for all of my hard work? We taught our children that good manners make people feel comfortable. And I have learned that the gift of hospitality makes people feel welcome. My mother-in-law used to say, “People don’t come over to see your dust. They come to see you.”
Are you distracted by trying to have the perfect Pinterest party that you get a headache in planning? Just stop. Focus on what is most important. Simplify your efforts. Enjoy the aroma of the pies baking or the turkey roasting. Be grateful that you are able to buy all this food or that you can travel elsewhere! And let us be thankful for our freedom and all the blessings we enjoy.
This holiday season, I’m going to try hard to push aside the distractions and enjoy every party, savor every dish and enjoy the time with friends and family. I hope you do too!