Mary of Bethany: My Treasure

Two sisters, each without a spouse,
Shelter beneath our kindly brother’s roof.
The older fills her days with industry
Cooking and cleaning and caring
For all who come our way
She relishes her title:
Lady of the house

My role, less clear,
Varies day by day
I feel a little lost, I must confess,
Uncertain of the part I’m meant to play.

Sometimes I miss my place by Abba’s side,
His arms that cradled me close to his heart.
My gaze drifts to an alabaster jar,
A gift he gave to me before he died.
“Your dowry,” he said. “For some future time.”
Then with thick fingers pried away the lid
Releasing an aroma redolent
Of spring, new life, sweet flowers,
And I laughed.
“Perfume? Is that not for the bride?
Why will my husband wish this for his own?”
Abba touched my cheek and smiled.

“This perfume, worth a year of labor,
Is but a sign of what I value most.
You are my Spikenard
Precious, fragrant, true

Filling my life with beauty.
The treasure I bestow is you.”

mary of bethany resize

Since brother gives us everything we need,
I save the jar as Abba wished me to
For the special man, my chosen bridegroom, who
Will add onto his house a room for me.
Awaiting that day, I follow sister’s lead
And join her as she serves my brother’s guests.
A pleasant life
And none need ever know
The unmet longings deep within my breast.

One day my brother rushes home to say,
“Make ready! The Teacher
Joins us at our meal.
Bring out the best of everything we have.

Prepare the finest dinner that you can.”

As we obey,
I study this strange man.
What makes my brother seat him
In my father’s chair?
He has a workman’s hands,
A scholar’s brow,
But otherwise an ordinary face.
Then he begins to speak . . .
I slow my pace.
I linger over clearing plate and cup
Eager to be
Closer
To soak up
His words that pierce my soul,
Destroy my pride,
And fill my mind with questions.

Who is He?

The Teacher turns,
Holds out his hand.
“Come,” He bids. And I
Leave the crockery in a heap
And make my way,
Amid astonished looks,
To Teacher’s feet.

There, I sit motionless,
Trapped by the knowing
In His eyes
.

And my heart recognizes Him
As if from a promise
Made long ago.

He is my treasure,
Precious, fragrant, true,
Redolent of life and all things new.
I make my place
At the feet of my Lord.

He is Spikenard.

Inspired by Scripture and born in imagination. A sermon and a Liz Curtis Higgs Bible study set my mind to wondering about Mary. I hope we’ll meet and share out stories in Heaven!

You may want to check out part II of my poem, Mary of Bethany: He Cried, here.

How about you, friends? Which women from Scripture fascinate you? Do you find yourself writing the parts of their stories the Bible keeps private? If you had to find a gift which symbolizes your life, what would it be? Or which great treasures symbolizes Christ for you? 

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