When Mary anointed Jesus at Bethany, she was anticipating today; “she has done a beautiful thing she has anointed me for my burial”. At the time, everybody else was either in confrontation or denial mode- you’re not going to die, you must not be allowed to die. But she got it – and even more than that, she accepted it. Even yesterday, day of horror and anguish though it was, wasn’t quite what she was about. There was still something happening yesterday – trial, procession, crucifixion as spectacle….
But today – today, there is nothing.
When she anointed him, it was for today. For letting him go. For having no more connection, no more presence, no expectation, no hope. She accepted he was going to die, and yesterday he went through the process of dying. And today he’s dead.
And there is nothing but absence.
That is what she accepted when she anointed him. She took the jar of ointment which was probably her dowry, was certainly her investment in the future, and she broke it open and used it up, gave it over. Because she accepted that today would come – the day when letting go of hope happens, where there is only absence.
It is a day the others would do anything to avoid, to fill up , to deny – after all, there is always something that can be done; a fight to have, a plan to make, a fantasy to escape to….this ointment could be sold, and the money given to the poor.
But what if…..what if like her, we accept that this is what he has chosen to do; to die, to go into the darkness of the tomb; to leave us; to stop. What is, for a few moments at least, we let go of the need to hope, to expect, even to fear – and just encounter the absence as the truth.
In a world in which God is often known in absence, today might be the most of honest day of all.