In searching for an appropriate poem for Holy Week, I came across this one by Susan Windley-Daoust at Ironic Catholic. She writes of the woman (some say this was Mary Magdalene) who anointed Jesus with expensive perfume while he was having dinner at the home of Simon the leper in Bethany. Some of those in attendance were scandalized and thought she should have given the money to the poor, but Jesus told them,
In Memory of Her“Let her alone; why do you bother her? She has done a good deed to Me. For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you wish you can do good to them; but you do not always have Me. She has done what she could; she has anointed My body beforehand for the burial.Truly I say to you, wherever the gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be spoken of in memory of her."
"Leave her alone."
And for the rest of her life, they do.
They are not supposed to look at me, but
Sidelong glances and traitorous sounds tell them
I am crying.
And words I want to say are choked, stillborn.
I can't tell them how I knew
unless you too, see its obvious
that he was not meant to stay with us forever.
He seemed to know it that day,
the way he ate, so slowly, deliberately,
staring at people, boring into their eyes,
the occasional pause, blink,
seeing something we could, or would, not.
He was with us, and not,
and I knew it was time.
So I rushed to get the jar of spikenard,
and stepped over reclining men,
to his mat.
With a pleading glance, I knelt down
Cracked the seal,
and poured out a portion, then the whole, of my hope,
on his head, and then his feet.
Kneeling at those calloused feet, I wept
with my knowledge of what this means:
I have given my future
To this man, who will die.
As that perfume filled the room,
He smiled, lifting my chin, and addressed me:
"...you will not always have me.
She has done what she could.
She has anticipated annointing my body for burial.
Amen, I say to you, whenever this gospel is proclaimed to the whole world,
what she has done will be told..."
So I was left alone by men.
No one understood then;
truth, I barely understood myself.
But, in that gift, my center shifted
And I knew--despite his coming death--that I was meant to be alone, for him, somehow.
The day after the catastrophe,
I looked at the broken jar
I remembered the fragrance
And I hoped.