I’ve only been handed, for the most part, two narratives in a nutshell about my own creativity, the first being– this essay is too creative–and the second–you’re not really all that creative are you?

The first assessment happened as a comment on every essay portion of every- standardized- test- ever- taken, and the second from every person who has crossed my path in life, having not yet grasped the importance of knowing self in isolation, not in comparison to others.

Identity is a tricky thing. The moment I try on an adjective the way I slip into swimsuits to see what fits best as I am packing for a beach vacation, is the moment that an identifier becomes a role. Roles constrict and require conformity, which is the least creative word in the dictionary, it seems to me.

Strive not to be creative, but to create. Strive not to be an “academic” but to think. Strive not to explain yourself to others but to know yourself in the quiet way a sparrow dips for drink. When I write a good poem, it feels more like participation in community than it does self-discovery. Even if no one reads it. And, when someone misreads me, I try to focus on their fledgling reading ability, and not the makeshift meaning they have forced themselves to accept because they’ve mispronounced my life.


Choose the Transcendent Moments

I started a new Bible study this week: “Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World.” So far, I still have a 50 percent allegiance to both sisters. In short, I have to “Martha” before I can productively “Mary” but if I never get to “Mary”, I can begin to feel a despair of sorts setting in.

My Grandpa Andrew, who unbelievably began to work a full day on the farm at the age of 8, told me once that the key to a happy life is to be able to “work with the best of them but also to be able to party with the best of them.” If you are Martha-ing, Martha with all your might, but if you find yourself in a Mary-moment, then you must be able to lose yourself in the transcendent beauties of life.

I don’t believe Mary just sat on her tush at the feet of Jesus all day and did nothing else. She probably had work to do, too, and engaged in that, but perhaps Jesus had settled in to tell a story or someone had asked a question of him, and Mary overheard on her way to the kitchen to retrieve more napkins. She tarried and seated herself at just the right time to listen…to absorb….to experience.

Mary not only rested and rested differently, but her attitude also caused her to approach her work differently.

As a teacher, with summer on the front burner, I am approaching the onset of Major Mary Time. Writing, reading, exercising, cooking, deep-cleaning my house, spending time with my grandchildren, planning my classes for fall semester, traveling, swimming, sunning, sharing meals and drinking coffee with friends. All of these activities sound restful and replenishing to me, mostly because of the long stretches of time I can pursue without interruptions.

Each one of us has a Mary Button and each one of us has a Martha Button, and good thing, because we need them both. It takes preparation to be able to hit the snooze button on special days. It takes work to create a home environment where people can relax and share and sleep and live.

On a desert island by myself, I am a Mary, but I would have to learn to forage and build my own fire, or this Mary would starve on said- desert -island. I need my Martha side, too. Marthy. We all really need to be Marthy. With a God-given grace for timing and tact.