Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Fragrance (10/24/05)
TITLE: The Redolence of Gratitude
By Garnet Miller
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Waiting for her chance to enter, Mary’s mind replayed the frightening event of not so long ago. Her chest tightened as she thought of her brother’s body lying on that bed—cold and devoid of life. She and Martha had prayed for the Teacher to come to Bethany, but he had stayed away for several days. When he did arrive, Lazarus was well beyond even the Teacher’s help. Or, so she thought.
The Teacher had shed tears for her brother when they broke the news to him. He keenly felt Lazarus’ loss as she had. Then, he stood before the burial chamber and called Lazarus to come forth from the grave, and he did! Lazarus walked out of that tomb as if he had merely been asleep.
Mary held the gift, wrapped in scarlet cloth, close to her breast. The Teacher deserved more to express her gratitude for saving her brother’s life, but this was all she had. It had cost every coin she had saved.
She slid further back in the corner when Martha headed in her direction carrying trays covered with delectable fare fit for a king. The aroma of roasted lamb, fresh bread, vegetables, and bitter herbs followed in Martha’s wake. The guest of honor blessed the meal laid before them and all around the table began to eat.
Taking a deep breath, Mary stepped into the room. She walked over to where the Teacher reclined and knelt on the floor in front of him. Everyone’s attention fixed on her. Words failed her in that moment. The tears that rolled down her cheeks, landing on his feet, revealed the thankfulness in her heart. It’s now or never, she told herself.
With great care, she removed her head covering. Also, she took a wooden comb out of her hair, allowing the soft auburn ringlets to cascade across her shoulders and down her back. Placing her gift on the floor, the scarlet cloth fell away to reveal a marble jar. Using both her hands, Mary snapped the slender neck of the flask. Reverently, she poured the viscous fluid onto Jesus’ feet.
Bending forward, she allowed her tresses to rest on his feet. She moved her hair back and forth, bathing both feet and ankles in the amber colored oil. The Spikenard glistened on Jesus’ feet.
A sweet, almost musk-like aroma radiated throughout the room, displacing the scents from the feast, leaving an aura of relaxation upon each guest. They had all beheld her offering performed in love. Jesus smiled at Mary.
“Ugh! What a wicked woman she is,” Simon reproached her. “She lets her hair down in public!”
“What a waste of money. That perfume could have been sold to benefit the poor,” Judas scolded.
Mary shrank back from Jesus in shame, her hair dripping with oil. She buried her face in her hands, trying to shield herself from their caustic words. Just then, Jesus held up his hand. The room fell silent.
“Simon, when I entered this house, you neither offered me a bowl of water for my feet, nor a servant to wash them.” Simon turned away from Jesus’ gaze. Jesus then turned his attention to Judas.
“The poor will always be with you, but I will not,” Jesus pointed out.
Bidding her come, Mary once again sat at the Teacher’s feet.
“Only this child has chosen to truly honor me by anointing my body in anticipation of my burial. Once again, she has chosen the greater gift. Because of this, what you all have witnessed today will be told in her memory for generations to come.”
*Matthew 26:6-13; Mark 14:3-9; Luke 7:37,38; John 12:1-8 (KJV)
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