Lent: What matters?

Distracted and thoughtless?

The anointing with oil and tears

The anointing with oil and tears 1979, Sadao Watanabe

A Pharisee invited Jesus to have dinner with him. So Jesus went to the Pharisee’s home and got ready to eat.  When a sinful woman in that town found out that Jesus was there, she bought an expensive bottle of perfume. Then she came and stood behind Jesus. She cried and started washing his feet with her tears and drying them with her hair. The woman kissed his feet and poured the perfume on them...

He turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Have you noticed this woman? When I came into your home, you didn’t give me any water so I could wash my feet. But she has washed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. You didn’t greet me with a kiss, but from the time I came in, she has not stopped kissing my feet. You didn’t even pour olive oil on my head, but she has poured expensive perfume on my feet. So I tell you that all her sins are forgiven, and that is why she has shown great love. But anyone who has been forgiven for only a little will show only a little love.”...But Jesus told the woman, “Because of your faith, you are now saved. May God give you peace!”  Luke 7:36-50

Jesus adds an observation

I don’t know about you but there are certain bits of scripture that haunt me.  And here is one and it’s not about my inability to assess the appropriate amount of anti-deodorant to use. A stark contrast is drawn by Jesus here, though as a non-judgmental observation, I think.  She has washed and dried and kissed me.  You have been distracted and thoughtless.

This woman exhibits both directness and transparency.  It reminds me of children, of the uncluttered nature of kicking a football round a pitch, and of the immediacy that the vulnerable and the vulnerable moment can draw you into; that this is all there is, under my nose, here and now, in this present moment.     The quality of recent encounters reminded me of working in a hostel for single homeless men some years ago.  There was wariness on my part, some fear perhaps, but the overriding sensation was of being extremely present and being so very much alive, much of this was due to the raw directness and the simplicity that I encountered. 

What really matters?

To what extent am I skimming the surface of (my) life, fumbling round its perimeter?  Have I touched any depths of late like this sinfulwoman, or am I just ticking off to-do lists?  

I think the haunting is not so much about passion versus lukewarmness (or less so) as much as it is about seeing clearly what really matters to us.

Andrew Hook