The last week in the life of Jesus is something I have tried to wrap my mind around for decades. Knowing that the end was near. Walking alongside the people you love. Pressing to say all the words that you need to speak before time is up. I can only imagine that the conversations felt important. I can hear the passion in the words and instruction in the tone.
The Gospel text for today is the story of Mary anointing the feet of Jesus with costly perfume. To those at dinner that day, the group perception was waste. Why would you pour such a costly gift on someone’s feet? Mary used her hair to rub the oil on his feet. If you know my fear, hatred, abhorrence for feet, you can feel my body recoiling from this part of the story. But I need to tell it. We all need to see this. Mary did something so extravagant and overtly attention grabbing that people called her out for the crazy, for the unnecessary and wasteful act.
Have you have ever done anything that caused those around to question your crazy? Something that others perceive as unnecessary, wasteful, out of line or reckless? While I will never rub feet with my hair, I have had many a moment that my feelings, passions or need to speak up and out have caused me to move past the point of “acceptable” behavior. The number of times that I have been told to calm down, take a breath or just walk away are many. So, I get Mary. I get the kind of disrupted soul moment that all I can do is break that jar of oil and sit at the feet of those that have taught me that my passion is worthy of being trusted.
Recently, I have be writing extensively about listening to and trusting my inner voice (which I call Spirit). For many women, we are taught that our feelings are too much. We are led to believe that our passion and drive is too emotion based. I can see many of the comments that I have received in years past being said that day by the disciples to Mary. Yet Jesus had a different approach. He let her feel. He let her demonstrate and give action to her passion. He let her trust herself to respond in that moment to the whispers (and perhaps even the yelling) of her insides to cling to her teacher.
This leads me to a challenge for you today. Who are you clinging to? Who are you listening to in a way that expressing their worth in your life, as a voice of truth to you, is right? This is a bizarre season of separation. But like I said yesterday, we have a unique opportunity to slow down and speak words of affirmation and thanks for the teachers in our midst. Is it your friend? Is it a podcast host? Is it your child? Maybe all of the above? May we use today (don’t wait!) to lavishly express the place of honor that our people hold in our hearts.