David Hockney. Garrowby Hill.
Nothing on our spiritual journey is ever final; it is an ongoing process moving us higher and higher. It is a continuous change and movement from what is good, to what is better, to what is best. Most of us stay in the good and never attain the better or the best because the inner work of change is difficult, our fear is so great, and there are so few people who can help us find the way.The Hidden Life Awakened pp104-105
Jesus, you opened the doors of heaven to me when you cried out from the cross, “It is finished.” You paid the price for me, your beloved. Now, I sense your call to set aside the things that so easily entangle me and come with You to the higher places. To do this, I have to change. Change and growth are synonymous. Seeing and letting go of the distractions and sins that so easily ensnare me and returning again and again to the quiet with you is how I will find my way into the Holiest. There are so many wonderful words in the world calling me to change, but I find there is no power in them—they speak only to my mind and emotions. Words that emerge from the depths of Your great heart create what they speak. You spoke light into the cosmos. I know that if I listen and open to whatever and however you choose to speak to me, reflecting again and again on new understandings, trusting them enough to take another step towards you, I will finally turn and see that I have moved to a better, higher place. Everything around me has changed for the better. That doesn’t mean that anything or anyone else has changed, but I see them differently because I see with new eyes—God’s eyes.
Your dear friend and disciple, Mary of Bethany, sensed something of your glory and yearned for deeper understanding. When you arrived for dinner in the home she shared with her family and your good friends, Lazarus and Martha, both women were busily working in the kitchen. When Mary saw you come in, she immediately left the work to sit at your feet and listen. Martha, in exasperation, said, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to come help me!” Your answer to her was, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken from her.” 1 What Martha was doing was good and necessary but it was keeping her from the best.
Again in Bethany, you were having dinner at another home with your closest friends just before Passover. Mary quietly slipped in with the alabaster jar of extremely costly perfume her family had been saving for her wedding. Without a word, she broke it and poured it over your head, filling the room with its glorious fragrance and scandalizing the group assembled there. Everyone jumped up in shock at such a recklessly extravagant act…except you. They scolded her harshly, saying, “What a total waste! That could have been sold for a lot of money to help the poor.” Only you understood that hers was a radical and holy gesture of devotion and highest understanding—she was anointing you for your death. The others loved you and were totally committed to doing your good work, but the tragedy was that their focus was so limited that they missed the best. Over and over, Mary had chosen to tune out the world’s noise and deeply attend to you with an open heart and open mind. Her intense desire had moved her to a higher place. Then you said to the others and all of history, “Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me…she has done what she could; she has anointed my body for burial. And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.” 2
It takes both the service of an active Martha doing God’s work in the world and the deep meditation and prayer flowing through a contemplative Mary to draw people into the community of Love. My prayer is coming to receive your love, and my action is going out to offer it to the hungry hearts of others. If I do both, all of my service will become prayer, and all of my prayer will become service. In deep humility, then, I will move up the high mountain with you and reclaim the heavenly life that awaits me.