In my first CPE unit I had the opportunity to spend a great deal of time with an elderly woman who had been admitted to the inpatient psychiatric unit with severe depression. She was a vibrant and intelligent woman, and in her later years had found herself increasingly crippled by Parkinson’s disease.
A great deal of her depression stemmed from her sense that her “usefulness” was gone. In her state of physical dependence she was convinced that she was no longer a use to those around her and felt that she had become a burden. I found her to be an amazing woman, her experience and passion for life was one of her great strengths and I began to realize that much of her despair stemmed from her strong sense of duty.
Working with the story of Mary and Martha (the one where Martha is doing all the work while Mary is attentively listening to Jesus) we talked about how various points in our lives demand from us different ways of being. And, at this point in her life she was being called to be like Mary, allowing others to do for her so that she could attend to Christ.
Are you called to be Mary or Martha (or both)? Does your role/vocation/calling change from day to day, moment to moment or with each passing phase of life?