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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Fragrance (10/24/05)

TITLE: Alabaster Jar
By Allison Egley


Mary awoke with a start as the day began, remembering what she was planning to do. She glanced over at the gift sitting on the table. Even from here, she could detect the fragrance of the perfume. She got out of bed and started her daily chores, but she couldn’t concentrate. Her eyes kept wondering back to the bottle sitting on the table.

Finally, it was time. Mary put on her shawl and grabbed the gift, cradling it carefully next to her body like a newborn child. As she walked, she thought, This is a crazy idea! Mary wasn’t quite sure why she was doing this. She was well aware of how much her gift cost. She felt, somehow, that this was the right thing to do. Maybe, deep down in her heart, she believed all this man had said and done. She glanced around. Were those people staring at her, or was it her imagination? Perhaps she should just turn around and forget about it. No, I must do this! she thought. Mary knew that if she backed out now, she would forever wonder if he would have accepted her gift. She couldn’t use the perfume herself. If she didn’t do this, the perfume would be a bitter reminder of what could have been. With a new resolve, she continued walking, doubts sill lingering in her head.

Arriving at the house, her heart fell. She was hoping there wouldn’t be many people. The house was packed. So much for being subtle, she thought as she entered the house. The men stared as she fell to the guest of honor’s feet. Her heart was racing. What was she thinking? Surly this man didn’t have any time for her. He was, after all, the most popular man in this town. No, make that the inhabited earth! Everyone had heard of this man’s deeds. Who did she think she was to enter into his presence?

She wept as she broke the bottle over the man’s head. The fragrance of the perfume filled the air. Mary stared at his feet while the costly perfume trickled down. She took a piece of her hair and hesitated for a moment. What would this man do? Would he recoil in horror? Would he rebuke her? Would he, perhaps, accept her gift? Then, Mary took her hair and started to wipe the man’s feet. He didn’t jump back. He didn’t rebuke her. Surely everyone was staring at her, but she couldn’t stop now. Mary wasn’t sure what overcame her, but she wept and kissed his feet over and over again.

One of the men finally found his voice. “Why is this woman wasting this perfume?” She smiled weakly at the stunned silence that had overtaken the house as she began her deed.

“Do you not know who this woman is?” another asked with indignation.

“She should have sold this and given the money to the poor,” a third said.

Mary continued to weep, pretending to ignore the comments, but they were right. What business did she have even being in the same room as this man? She kicked herself for not selling the perfume and giving it to the poor. Why didn’t she think of that? Surely that would have been a better use of her wages.

But then the man spoke. “Do not bother this women. What she has done is a good thing, and it will be remembered even after her death. You will always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me.” Then, he took her chin into his hand and turned her face towards his. She looked at him through tear filled eyes. “Mary, your sins are forgiven.” Mary stood in stunned silence. How did he know her name? Did this man know everything she had done? This man couldn’t have the power to forgive sins. But could it be? Could this man be who He claimed to be? “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”

Mary smiled. She gathered some of the pieces of the broken alabaster jar. Mary walked out of the house, weeping and smelling her hair. She would remember this day forever; the day when Jesus, the son of God, forgave the sins of her, Mary, a worthless sinner. She would never forget the fragrance of that perfume as long as she lived.

Story and scripture quotations adapted from Matthew 26:6-13, Mark 14:3-9, Luke 7:37-39, 44-50, John 12:1-8 (NASB)

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This article has been read 1121 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Janice Stotz11/01/05
I agree. I thought your telling of the story and of Mary's emotions was well done!
dub W11/01/05
I have read this story told in many ways, but you have added the drama and realism to the narration. Thank you.
Laurie Glass 11/01/05
This is one of my favorites this week. You drew me right in. Great job.
Donna J. Shepherd11/02/05
Jan Ackerson 11/02/05
Thanks for this unique peek into the thoughts of this familiar Bible character. Well-written.
terri tiffany11/03/05
you write beautifully!
Garnet Miller 11/03/05
When I did not know Christ, I wondered as Mary did, if He even had time for me. Why should he care? Thank God that He does care about even the hairs on my head. Beautifully done:)
Nina Phillips11/03/05
I think I could relate to the nervousness approaching Jesus, someone I thought to be a mighty man of God..and me a sinner. I liked your take on the story- and thinking that in the prescense of the Holy One I know I would break down and cry too. Very realistic emotions described.
God bless ya, littlelight
Jeffrey Snell11/03/05
Thanks for giving us a glance into your perception of Mary. Great emotion and tension. Good job!
Karen Rice11/03/05
I really like your style! I do agree that it would be better to lend a bit of mystery to whom this woman is, unnamed at the beginning. The last paragraph has too many Mary's in it. I think it might have more 'punch' if only one were used there, when she realizes that her name holds a new identity. That God's relationship is intimate personal.
Shari Armstrong 11/03/05
Very well done :) I enjoyed reading your version.
Phyllis Inniss11/04/05
Beautifully written. You have presented Mary's emotions very vividly and drawn the reader along with your story telling.
Debbie OConnor11/04/05
Very good work. I love the emotions you attribute to Mary as she approached Jesus. I would have felt like that.
Val Clark11/06/05
Yes, you really connected to Mary and portrayed her probable thought and emotions very convincingly. yeggy
Sally Hanan11/06/05
You are good at writing thoughts and feelings. Take this up one level and make the story come even more alive by adding in the senses-smells, textures, sounds, movements; let us be Mary.