K. Norris says in The Cloister Walk that often the people who know the exact cost of something, have no idea of its value.
Who knows what the woman who anointed Jesus’ feet with expensive nard was thinking? She wasn’t preparing Him for burial as Jesus Himself suggests. She was not, as some authors have suggested, breaking open and emptying her dowry, hoping for a spouse (though that is what she ultimately got spiritually). She was not even giving Jesus a gift, for surely she knew that this man poorly appreciated the world’s treasures. There was not even extravagance in this gaudy display. She knew, as we all know, that extravagance relies on the audience and Jesus is not impressed…with the oil.
What did she bring? Fragrance.
This money is being wasted, sending all those people to Africa. With that much money we could build a school there. Why, we could put in twenty wells with that much money. A van. They really need a van. Why wasn’t that money given to the poor?
The world looks and never sees. The world listens and never hears.
A child’s tin can phone conversation across the dining room table or her gathering of weeds to garland your hair carry an unseen weight of glory to which the world is forbidden or is unable to bear. The world in its poverty can only see what could be and not what is.
The fragrance of nard filled the room. Missionaries’ hands hold foreign dirt and hands. Missionary fingers plait honey brown hair into peace and loved-ness. Missionary feet miss the goal with balls of rags and all feet rejoice that no one fails alone.
Fragrance. The fragrance of love is much too dear to be sacrificed for houses or vans. The weight of a forehead kiss brought 5000 miles for a sleeping child in acacia shade trumps many schools or wells.