My tireless, creative, encouraging wife periodically pores over my old Theology of Desire blog to find pieces she thinks need repurposing. This post is one of those; it's an envisioning of Luke 7:36-50.
Their voices carry through the door; the sound of men in the absence of women.
My heart pounds. Do I dare?
I take a breath and push the door open. The room falls silent as one by one the men realize I'm not a servant bringing food or more wine.
Their expressions tell a story. Some of them know me and scowl their disapproval and surprise. Those who don’t know me look puzzled; my robes and ornaments confuse them. I can’t think about them now, because he is before me.
I cross the room to where he reclines, his eyes smiling a soft and silent welcome. If only I could sit at his side, and bend my face to his lips! But it's impossible, even for one as brazen as me. Instead, I kneel at his feet, reaching out my hands, unfit as they are, and unfasten his sandals, dusty and worn.
Why has no one washed them?
The tears I swallowed begin to flow. They drip onto the feet of my beloved, leaving tracks in the dust. I cry harder, wishing my broken heart could melt and seep from my eyes to wash him. I dare not look at his face, and simply watch as the tears fall, dripping the dirt of the road away.
I unclasp my hair, and it falls clean, shining, and perfumed. I wrap his feet in its length, winding my head closer until my lips touch the top of one beautiful foot. I wipe away the tears and dust with my hair, wishing I could be washed clean as easily.
When his feet are dry, I twist my hair back, and pull the vial from the bag hanging at my waist. When I snap off the top, the expensive scent of weddings and burials reaches him. He smiles again as he watches me, his eyes speaking love and restraint.
It's hard to look away, but the grumbles of men break through and I turn to finish.
The oil is cool in my hand, and I rub my palms together before picking up the first perfect foot. My hands caress him, sliding from the soft curving arch to his road-roughened heel. I want to give him pleasure, to anoint him with my love. My fingers part each pair of toes, sliding slippery between them. Every touch is a concert of passion, every caress a request.
I want to flood him with kisses but that would go too far; it's a miracle I've been allowed this much. I pour more oil instead, and gently lift the second foot, sorrowing that my time with him is so short. Knowing I must go.
The tears flow faster as I force myself to release him. I rise to leave before it is demanded, and lift my eyes to his again. His gaze pierces me with promise.
I move to the door, holding his gaze, knowing that however long my life before that promise is fulfilled will be too long.
His lips move in a farewell but make out no words.
My heart hears him though. He says, “Goodbye, beloved.”
And I leave.