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Holy Monday: Meditations on hair





The other day I was listening to the story of Mary of Bethany anointing Jesus’ feet. Maybe it was the audio version of the gospels, or maybe it was my frame of mind that day, but I suddenly realised that as she was pouring the oil of nard on Jesus, the whole house would have been impregnated with the pungent scent of spikenard which is described as woody and earthy.


As Mary washed Jesus’ feet, and wiped it with her voluminous hair, the nard would have also infused her whole person. The back of her neck, her hair, her shoulders. Chances are she would not have washed her hair straight afterwards so as she went about her normal life that week the scent of her encounter with Jesus would have followed her. When she went to the market, her home, cooking and eating meals, in bed. She would have smelled of nard for the rest of the week if not longer. The scent would have lingered as she moved from room to room and those who came in contact with her would have known the scent and wondered about it. Some people would have heard of what happened at the house at the dinner, and would have said of her: “ah, she was with Jesus”.


Imagining this made me ask myself: do people know I’ve been hanging out with Jesus? Do I carry the smell of our encounter? Does it permeate everywhere I go? The other day I was listening to the story of Mary of Bethany anointing Jesus’ feet. Maybe it was the audio version of the gospels, or maybe it was my frame of mind that day, but I suddenly realised that as she was pouring the oil of nard on Jesus, the whole house would have been impregnated with the pungent scent of spikenard which is described as woody and earthy.


As Mary washed Jesus’ feet, and wiped it with her voluminous hair, the nard would have also infused her whole person. The back of her neck, her hair, her shoulders. Chances are she would not have washed her hair straight afterwards so as she went about her normal life that week the scent of her encounter with Jesus would have followed her. When she went to the market, her home, cooking and eating meals, in bed. She would have smelled of nard for the rest of the week if not longer. The scent would have lingered as she moved from room to room and those who came in contact with her would have known the scent and wondered about it. Some people would have heard of what happened at the house at the dinner, and would have said of her: “ah, she was with Jesus”.


Imagining this made me ask myself: do people know I’ve been hanging out with Jesus? Do I carry the smell of our encounter? Does it permeate everywhere I go?


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