Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Box-Breaker

This is something I wrote a few years back. I ran across it when I checked my email archives a few moments ago.

The Box-Breaker

She knew who she was. Mary, the prostitute.

Perhaps the one thing in her life that she held dear was that alabaster box. White, creamy, smooth. The box itself was worth as much, if not more than, its contents. Spikenard was a spicy sweet fragrance, a reminder of better days and nobler ways.

But the box had stayed with her for years. She treasured it.
It might have been the one reminder she had of something that was pure and decent, lovely and fragrant, about her life.
Everything else was putrid, like the droppings from camels and donkeys on the road.

She knew what she was.

But He'd touched her with His eyes. He'd reached her heart.
She knew she could never be the same again.
She knew she had to deeply repent - and that He must know it. She didn't care who else knew.

Braving disapproval from the inner circle, from the religious elite, she came, pushing past the confused servants who tried to keep her out.

One glimpse of Him gave her the courage she needed.

She does not remember how she crossed the floor to reach Him. But suddenly she found herself beside Him. The breathless realization of who He was, of who she was, gripped her heart.

She knew Who He was.

She could do nothing but sink to her knees, crumpling in tears. The box - her treasure - was forgotten.

Nothing mattered except Him.

She could see His bare feet, still dirty with the dust and dung of the road to the Pharisee's house - still clinging to His feet it showed Simon's lack of respect, his unwillingness to honour the Master.

Her heart broke.

One of her tears fell on one of His feet. In its wake it left a trail of cleanliness. "If only I could take this dishonour for Him!" she thought, and the tears flowed more and more freely.
She began to kiss His feet, the tears running down her nose, dripping off her lips, her chin. . . onto the dirt of the roadway. The droppings of her life.
This was the way, she thought. She had no basin. Tears were in abundance.
The dust and foul-smelling refuse loosened from His feet with the salty moisture.
She could taste it mingling with her kisses.

She didn't care.

She could not ask for a towel. She had no authority in this house.
But she did have something to wipe His feet with.
Her crowning glory. She reached toward the cloth turban on her head where all women kept their hair, tightly wrapped in respectability.

And she unwrapped it, letting her hair fall down past her shoulders.

She leaned close, wiping off the stench of the roadway with her beautiful tresses, taking His dishonour as her own, carefully digging between His toes, gently scrubbing up to His ankles, dying more and more to her feminine pride as she continued her repentance.

Finally when His feet were clear of the filthy residue, and her hair was full of it instead, she remembered the box beside her.

She smashed it. Pieces got all over the floor, creaminess oozed on her hands, His feet, the tips of her strands of hair.

Her face was dirty, streaked with tears, and still more spilled out as she poured the precious spikenard onto Him, rubbing the ointment into His feet, between the toes where once there had been the opposite.

The fragrance filled the room.

She was doing what she had originally come to do, lavishing her only - now her only remaining - treasure on Him. Her pride, her decorum was gone. This was the only thing left to relinquish to Him.

Only ... He was well worth it.

Her throat felt swollen, sobs heaving her body in spasms as she continued. Everything was gone. She could smell death - her death.

She heard His voice. He was talking to His host, and she barely recognized that He was talking about her.

She knew her place. The lowest place.
She knew His place. The highest place.
She was not looking for thanks.

Her heart was broken for her sin, and for His dishonour. She wanted to honour Him and even though she was not worthy, nobody else would do it. It didn't seem right.

So she humbly kept it up.

He turned toward her after He finished rebuking His respectable host.
He spoke into her spirit. "Your sins are forgiven," He said.


It was the one thing she had only begun to dare to hope for, the one thing her desperation drove her to His feet for. . . and He knew.

He knew who, what she was.

And He changed who she was by the words He spoke. "... forgiven," the word echoed in her innermost part, where no one had been allowed to go, and lit a blazing fire in a once-dead hearth.

Immediately she knew too.
She was transformed.

She knew...
He saw her as clean and fragrant as His own feet now were.
And days, months, years, centuries later, He remembers her.

And He smiles.

- - November 10/01

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