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Published Date: October 30, 2009

Published Date: October 30, 2009

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Fair Lady with the Alabaster Flask

Fair lady with the alabaster flask,
How I wish I were there
To smell that fragrance in the air
All through the house.
And what a cost! A year’s wages!
I would not forget that wonderful smell.
And who could forget what you did?
Many saw you.
Many knew you.
Many smelled your precious perfume.
Fair lady, I wish I had been there.

You took quite a risk, fair lady.
You were not invited,
Nor welcomed—
And to enter a room
Full of men!
Some were angry to see you there.
Some are still angry.
Some don’t care.

Jesus was not, though.
He saw you and smiled.
He knew why you came.
Only a woman could do it.
Only a woman would do.
It had always been men before,
Men priests, men prophets, men kings, men men.

But suddenly now a woman.
The time was right,
A woman with some means
Who would buy the best,
Who was compelled to come,
Who dared to enter,
Who dared to take a man’s place.
Oh fair lady, you were so brave.

To anoint . . . the Anointed One,
Not for a crown,
Not for a title,
But for his burial,
A life-giving sacrifice
For you and me.
Fair lady, how did you know?

It was a special task.
You broke that alabaster flask
. . . And it broke your heart
To see your Lord—
You loved him so—
To feel his skin,
Knowing he would die,
To smell that sweet fragrance
For his burial.
He would have no funeral,
Yet he was so alive.
Oh, fair lady, how could it be?

No singing in your heart,
Only tears that night—
Uncontrollable quiet tears,
Sweet powerful smell,
Tears pouring down,
Costly ointment poured out.
Oh, fair lady, I can hardly bear it!
Tears mixed with nard,
Sweet sad agony.
You used your hair,
Oh, fair lady, on your knees.

Jesus knew
Your heart and soul.
He defended you
Against those men there,
Said it would be a memorial
To remember you, fair lady.
Jesus knew,
And so did you,
What lay ahead.
That’s what was so sad.

But it had to be done—
Jesus dying was the only way,
The ultimate act of love.
He loved you, fair lady.
Thank you for your precious nard,
And especially for your tears.
May we never forget you . . .
        Mary of Bethany:
Fair lady with the alabaster flask.