10 November 2009

alabastervial

          Today I feel like I need to remember the truth...
     Just at dusk, the sound of a woman’s feet could be heard pounding up the path to the main road.  The sound was purposeful and a neighbor or two caught a glimpse of a well dressed woman striding up the hill towards the palaces and mansions of the respected city leaders, including the wealthy Sanhedrin members.   Maybe she was Jewish.  Maybe not.  But she obviously cared little who saw her on the street at this hour.
    Moving quickly, she ascended the steps that approached the home of Simon.  Simon, indeed.  Of all the places she had been and might ever go…Messiah was here.
    She knew more of Simon than she ought.  He knew more of her than anyone was aware.  These clothes might well belong to him.  If one counted such things.
    Rounding the last curve in the terraced pathway, the doorway came into view.  Large servants flanked the opening where light and laughter spilled elegantly into the gathering velvet evening.  She pulled back into the shadows to gather her courage.
    One of the guards, Matthias, had been a friend in childhood.  He worked here to earn money to keep his large family after his father had died.  He had sent her away from this door before.  The other man was unfamiliar, even to her.  It couldn’t be helped, she must approach them and she must get in.  She must.
    It had all happened so quickly.  Pushed down in the street.  Before all the crowds.  All the sneering women.  Not an unfamiliar man anywhere.  Jesus had not stared upon her beauty as most men would.  Seemed not to notice, if that were possible.  He forgave her.  Her.  She was clean.  She walked home wrapped in a dress that had appeared at her hand.  She had gone her way and sinned no more, but she had to see him again.  She had to be loved that way again.  To love Him back.  It was like food to her.  Like drink.  Like sunshine.  Like air.
    It had been difficult to clean house.  There was a lot of sin in there; those were the terms in which she thought.  She stopped braiding her hair.  She covered it instead.  She cleaned and cleaned the house.  Her servant helped her rid the house of objects that should not be there.  Gifts she shouldn’t have received.  Indecent things for a person’s home.
    The people of the town were not as moved as she was.  She still could count on the women to move away when they saw her.  And the men to stand too near and stare too long.  Without the barter system, they were running out of food and fuel.  Things had become difficult and she and the servant needed something to keep them busy.  But He had commanded.  It was funny.  She had known what she ought to do for years, but had never been able to do it until then.  No amount of sacrifices had ever cleansed her inside.  Where it mattered.
    She had to see Him again.  She smoothed the strange feeling veil, tucked the cool alabaster vial into her left hand, and stepped forward.  Feeling like she was attacking a fortress, but what the guards saw was a tiny, tottering woman on delicate feet.  She looked like she would faint.
    “I need to speak to the master’s guest.  It is an urgent matter.”  Now that she was close and the light fell on her face, Matthias recognized her.  She looked so …clean.
    “The dinner is served and the party is closed.  I cannot let you in.”
    “I will only be a moment.  Won‘t you speak to the indoor servant on my behalf?”
    “Even if it were possible, Simon will only send you away.”
    “Have pity on me, Matthias.”  The other servant felt his authority neglected so that when Matthias finally looked over to consult with him, he was gone inside to ask the chief of house to admit the young woman at the door.  The chief of house wheeled around the corner in a flurry of robes.  What must the master have on if the servant looks like a weaver’s stall at the market?  He stopped abruptly when he saw who stood there, “ She?  In a veil? How long since I have seen her?,”  his thoughts raced as he tried to figure out how to manage this.  Something was different about her.  She looked so…honorable.
    “Wait here, I’ll speak to the master.  If he agrees, you will be admitted to his suite.  I was unaware that you had arrangements for this evening.  It may be a few moments.”
    “No, that is not my purpose.  I am here to see his guest, Jesus.”
    “You are?”  Intrigued, he glanced up quickly to make eye contact with the other men. “Well, if you are a sister of the master’s honored guest, we cannot help but find a place for you.”  The burning delight of crushing this worthless woman was on him like lust.  He would have run to the hall if he could.
    “I am not his sister.  I only met him once,” honesty was a crushing weight.  She knew how it sounded.  She knew that she was no longer free to leave.  She must finish what she came to do so they would understand.  She felt the tears begin to streak down her face, under his lascivious gaze, his unconcealed delight.  She sweat; her skin crawled.  She would not sob.
    “By all means, Madame.  Follow me.”  Heart pounding and face flushed, he led the way to the double doors.
    When the chamber swam into view, the faces of the guests were frozen like a painting of a banquet.  Simon’s face was caught in violent shock.  Slowly, she walked around to the left.  Jesus was there.  He saw her; knew her.  Her tears flowed freely.  She stumbled and fell at His feet.
    “Oh, Master,” she sobbed.  It was the last thing she was able to say.  She could only worship at His feet.  Her tears ran down and down and she remembered the vial in her hand.  Breaking it, the aroma of pure perfume filled the room, and she poured it out on his dusty tear stained feet.   Somewhere in her mind she couldn’t figure why there was so much dust.
    After a time, she rose to her knees, looking Him in the eye.  He saw her.  She was remembered.  She didn’t see filthy house servants and proud women.  She only saw Jesus.  She didn’t hear what He said to Simon.  She was filled to overflowing with Him.  Peace.
    He blessed her, and she went away.  Out of the salon.  Out of the house.  Past leering eyes.  Head held up.  Healed.  He was there.  He was real.  It was love.  She had not been mistaken or deceived.
    As she slowly turned into the last narrow street, she looked into her hand.  She held there an alabaster vial.  
     

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