Her body was worth its price … her services worth the gifts lavished upon her by that of pompous men.
She remembered the first time she saw the twinkle of glistening jewels, heard the music of bangles passing by under the soft flutter of shimmering silks – inhaled the intoxicating fragrance that lifted her above the dust of the village. She remembered the first time she wanted all those things and the life of luxury and ease they promised. She learned well – how to get all she wanted … and more. What did it matter if women averted their eyes and whispered about her? Or turned their heads keeping their distance? She was the one who possessed everything they dared not desire. They weren’t fooling anyone.
At least, it hadn’t mattered – she never questioned … until … him.
Normally her stride was deliberate, languid and confident – but not today. Not even the music of her own bangles under her own shimmering silks gave her pleasure. Today, her steps had purpose. And today, an unfamiliar twinge in the pit of her stomach hurried her pace as she passed familiar strangers. It was this day her eyes were lowered and averted. For her face was scrubbed clean of color and there was no perfume scenting smooth skin to assault the nostrils of judgment as she wafted by the women at the market.
She carried her purpose wrapped in a luminous shawl of blues and crimson.
It wasn’t long before she spotted the house of her destination. He was there – she knew it. Her heart quickened at the thought of what she must do. She must do this! But before she could reach the threshold, the grip of shame ached in her throat making it difficult to breathe. It could not stop her from opening the door.
First, the room filled with indignant outrage from men reclining around the table. Then slowly turned to feigned disgust as each one withdrew their gaze from the alluring silhouette outlined by sunlight – all but one turned away. She could not bear what she saw in His eyes. She looked down at the treasure she held in her hands and tried to take a deep breath to steady the sob caught in her chest. She walked forward to kneel behind Him, not daring to look upon His face. The others scampered away from the table in fear of contamination from her presence. The cries in her heart ripped opened old wounds as she tried to stifle their pain … but she knew He heard every whimper.
Feathery silks drifted to the floor as she unwrapped the alabaster jar. Everything she was, everything she possessed was from a life of illusion – the glamorous promises of sin … but it was all she had to offer to this man she believed.
She broke the seal of the elegant jar releasing the captivating fragrance of pure nard. Tears mingled with the rare oil as she anointed Him with perfume bought with the price of one night. She pressed her stained cheek against the crown of this kind and compassionate man.
The depths of shame no longer could be contained and she wailed, and stroked and washed His feet as men tried to pull her away. Their loud rebukes could not move her from pouring the remaining oil upon soles already cleansed from the dust of the earth. From “wasting it” they said, as she clung to His ankles kissing them with lips unclean. She tenderly dried them with her long auburn hair.
The man bent forward and held her close, patting her shoulder, speaking words of love and acceptance. She believed Him … knew Him to be true for she trusted His words for all eternity.
Illustrious illusions molted and decayed in the presence of this Man who called himself the Son of God – swept away as ashes in the Light of Truth.
She pushed herself up and wiped away her tears, then sighed, and smiled back into eyes that wrapped her in love – cleansed, healed and whole. The room grew quiet … reverent.
She got to her feet and closed her eyes, then looked anew upon His kind and compassionate face.
She turned and walked back into the sunlight … leaving behind, her bangles and silk … and twinkling jewels.
Story based on Matthew 26: 6-13, Mark 14:3-9, and Luke 7:36-39
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