The house is quiet this early in the morning. The sun hasn’t made its appearance yet, but the lady of the house is already up with the morning bread rising over the freshly stoked fire. Its warmth pushes the chill away, while she drinks her morning tea, pulling her shawl a little more tightly around her.
At the table she lays out a small ledger, writing quill, and small bottle of ink. She pulls the lamp a little closer as she opens the ledger.
Today is market day.
Opening the ledger, she runs a finger down the list of regular items that are kept on hand from the market, listing those that they are running low on. Salt, oil, and meal are written on a small parchment, the scrapping sound of the quill the only sound in the room, other than the occasional popping of the fire. She ponders a moment over the list, and then rises to look into one of the containers sitting against the wall. She nods her head in confirmation. There is enough flour to last until the next market day.
Back at the table, she pulls out a letter and reads slowly. Taxes on her home will be due in several weeks and there is the Passover to consider, guests will be coming, more supplies will be needed during those times. She must remember to take the cloth that she and her sister, Mary, have been weaving to the tailor next week. The money from selling those six yards of soft wool will help to cover the expenses for those two huge events in their lives.
Another piece of paper floats to the floor…from the doctor. Lazarus’ last sickness had required a visit from the physician and he charged a little more than they had on hand that day. He was gracious enough to allow them to pay him at a later date. She thought of the money pouch hidden in the pantry. There were enough coins now to pay him in full. She worried that Lazarus had not fully recovered. There was a shadow under his eyes that had not gone away. She decided to start saving more coins back in case there was another need for the doctor.
Through the closed curtain, a gentle light starts to pierce the darken areas of the room. She rises again and pulls the curtain aside, tying it with a string. Outside the chickens began to come from their nests. She takes a basket from the pantry, blows the light from the lamp out, and steps into the yard.
As the morning begins to break across the horizon, Martha stops, raising her face to the warmth, pulls her shawl over her hair, removing a cloth from the basket, she spreads it on the ground and kneels upon it, closes her eyes, and begins the morning ritual of praising Yahweh for His provision and protection. Raising her hands to the sky, she repeats words taught to her long ago by her mother and father, passed down through the generations, all the way back to Father Abraham.
Martha rises, shakes the dust from her cloth, returning it to the basket and heads toward the nests where hens have left provisions for the morning meal. In the small barn, she takes the pail from the nail on the wall and speaks gently to the goat that will provide the drinks for the household. With a pail of fresh milk in one hand and a basket of eggs in the other, Martha returns to the house to serve her family.
What would Martha’s study look like? I would like to imagine that she had a study dominated by the large desk with drawers holding ledgers pertaining to the running of her household, surrounded by walls covered with shelves holding books of dark cloth coverings, tattered edges from the many hands pulling them down to scan their pages. There is a large fireplace with a roaring fire; two strategically placed over-stuffed chairs placed before it. Lamps with painted globes sit nearby for extra lighting, Bibles and books on the coffee tables for easy access. Pens and markers sit ready to be used, journals…some full, some empty…waiting to record thoughts. The view from the massive windows behind the desk is breathtaking, large glass doors open up to a patio overlooking the family vineyards. A basset hound waits patiently to climb up into his mistress’ lap. He will be absently patted as she reads a book with her legs curled up underneath her.
Wait…that sounds more like a sitting from Pride and Prejudice at Mr. Darcy’s home, Pemberly, not the study of a simple Hebrew woman!
More than likely, Martha’s study was in the large room that served, not only as the kitchen, but also the dining room. The table would sit low to the floor with pillows scattered around for the family and friends to recline on. There might be a small stool off to the side that she would use when working on the ledgers. It’s quite possible that there were even sleeping pallets scattered along the sides of the room where the family slept while she prepared for the day.
Yet, without a doubt, I believe that Martha rose early, long before anyone else, and took care of the details of her home, for her family.
When she returned from gathering the eggs and milking the goat, she probably put away her ledgers and supplies in a safe place in the pantry, returned her stool to the wall peg, keeping it out of the way. She might have gone back outside to draw fresh water for the family and for washing her meager dishes. As she was cleaning the table off and preparing for the morning meal, I think Martha looked over to the pillow that had recently supported one of her guests. She would smile at the memory of her frazzled state that day and then remember His gentle words that forever changed her life.
“Only one thing is necessary….sit at my feet a while.”
From that day forward, she would take a few moments every day to sit quietly and meditate on His words. Her study might have been a room designed especially for the keeping of her home, a quiet room away from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the house, to mediate over the Word and keep records of bills due, responsibilities required of her. Or it might have been in her bedroom, her kitchen…anywhere that she could just sit at His feet, if not physically….mentally, spiritually, bowing before Him on a regular basis.
Join me in the study, as we learn to have a Martha heart in the daily business of taking care of our homes.