Extravagant Love >> Jesus Stories

A fictional twist on a familiar story, because it helps me process the thoughts and feelings and makes Biblical stories come alive. This one -- a remake of the telling of Mary Magdalene and the expensive perfume. From a middle-aged servant woman's perspective. 

The scent lingered still as she puffed the cushions and cleared the plates. She finished tidying the table and then moved to pick up the perfume-soaked pieces of pottery off the floor. It made her eyes water, first from the musky intensity, then from emotion.

Watching that girl let her hair down...

In a room full of men...

She didn't know Mary personally, but had heard of her deep love and devotion for the Master. Now she had seen love's display with her own eyes.

And she was feeling all sorts of things. Envy. Disgust. Emptiness. Awe. Frustration. Conflicting emotions, all of them. Emotions that made her heart quiver in the sort of way that frightened her. She had kept her heart cinched down tight for so many years. She wanted it to stay that way. Or at least it was easier.

Nobody denied that she was a good housekeeper -- quick, careful, determined. She could have a room put back to order in less time than a man could say goodbye to a friend. She was quick-witted, well-dressed and made the softest barley bread in town.

But seeing that audacious display of affection made her grit her teeth.

And hearing Jesus' response almost made her angry. She would have thrown something, hoping for more brokenness, if it weren't for the heart quiver. She knew, deep down, that Jesus wanted more than a served up meal and neat surroundings from her. She could feel it. And oh, she envied the girl for her abandon. The freedom of loving without counting the cost, of loving without shame, of loving spontaneously from the deepest part of your soul -- she could almost taste it.

But as much as the smell permeated the air, her heart still remained entirely empty of that kind of love. She had taught herself never to be vulnerable, never to love lavishly, never to risk loving without being certain of  love in return.

Oh to open the heart like that. 

She sighs as her emotions take their places and her subconscious begins to speak its familiar lines -- "nobody is worth that kind of love", "you're better off in a safe place", "you're really good at this life you've made for yourself".

She shakes her head, trying to erase the image of long wavy hair wiping teardrops from dusty feet. Scandalous. Extravagant. Incredible.

The girl had left, face tear-streaked but radiant. The men hadn't stayed long either, disturbed by the scene and confused by Jesus' words. She was alone, in a home that smelled of burial. Maybe it was her heart that needed embalming.