I am an extrovert. But when I can’t cope, when I am too weak. When I can’t put on a happy face, then I become insular, and shrink back within myself. I can’t be with groups and I really can’t be with people I don’t know.
This is a radical shift for me. I usually love people. But sometimes, I just can’t. Sometimes I can be — if I’m able to be — Martha, serving in the kitchen, in the background, not being noticed by anyone. There I can pray, there I can be quietly, not forcing myself to interact with forced smiles, but praying over food for others, stirring food for others. In the kitchen I feel safe, cocooned.
It’s made me think about the Mary and Martha story differently. I don’t normally do maybe or what if with the bible, but on this I’m going to make an exception. What if Martha’s retreat into the domestic wasn’t a matter of pharisaical piety but of a desire to serve?
I don’t say this to criticise Mary. By all means sitting at the foot of Christ is desirable. But there are different ways to do that, and sometimes being in the midst of the crowd is just too much.
Someone asked me whether I meant I was being Martha Stewart.
I chuckled at that, and wondered about Martha’s namesake.
Sometimes when I feel a little fragile – when I’m just not sure i want to see people – I cook. I make yummy, healthy, slowly made food. I achieve food. I clean, I share, I eat — not much of the food — and I am nourished by the experience.
Listening. Observing. Participating. Writing. Photographing. Reflecting.
Anna Blanch Rabe is an Australian-born writer and photographer. You can follow this adventure on Not A Pedestrian Life, or Facebook. More of her photography can be viewed here. For more Food: Nourish take a look at Quotidian Home or her previous website, Goannatree.