But Jesus said, “Leave her alone! Why are you bothering her? She has done a fine and beautiful thing for me… She did what she could; she poured perfume on my body to prepare it ahead of time for burial. — Mark 14:6,8
Today Martha asked Mary and me to help our neighbor, Simon, prepare for the dinner he would host tonight. Simon had sent an invitation to Jesus and his friends — and Jesus accepted! This would be the first time they would be together since that day, that day when Jesus healed Simon from leprosy.
As guests arrived, Mary and I watched from the roof of my family’s home. Bits of conversation drifted up while Mary and I laughed, trying to fill in the blanks to create nonsense conversations. We lost count how many times Simon was asked to tell the story of his healing.
Then Jesus arrived. Simon rushed to him, kneeling, kissing, and weeping into the hands that had healed him.
Jesus gently helped Simon to his feet and whispered in his ear. Then Simon led Jesus to the banquet table, seating him at the head of table as the guest of honor.
A servant swooped in with a bowl of water and towels to wash Jesus’ feet. Simon filled Jesus’ wine glass, while his wife filled his plate with fresh-baked bread, olives, figs and honey cakes.
Suddenly, the room was quiet. Mary and I strained over the wall to see who had come into the room. It was a woman we didn’t know. She was beautiful with an air of serenity. She moved gracefully into the room with a single purpose. She looked neither left nor right, but stared directly into the eyes of Jesus. In her hands was an alabaster jar that seemed to shine in the light of the setting sun. As she approached Jesus, she lowered her eyes and broke open the alabaster jar. Lifting it higher, she poured the nard upon Jesus head.
As quickly as the silence had fallen upon the room, it was gone when Judas Iscariot slammed his fist onto the table. A din of chatter erupted. Mary and I searched the room for the unknown woman. She was gone. No, there she was outside in Simon’s garden. She was with two other women. Mary identified then as the woman from Magdala and Jesus’ mother. The three women huddled together, weeping.
Imagio Divina — Divine Imagining — encourages us to enter into stories of the Bible using our imaginations for God to talk with us. Begin by reading a piece of scripture, closing your eyes, and allowing yourself to enter the story. Who is there? Choose a character that you identify with and become him or her. What do you see? What do your smell? What do you hear? What do you touch? Allow yourself to weave the scripture story into your imagination, braiding the biblical details with those you see in your mind’s eye. Many journal their journeys into antiquity following their Imagio Divina practice. For everyone, prayer is the natural conclusion.