The Penitent

The door to the great hall is ajar when she approaches The Leper’s house. There is the sound of laughter emanating from within – the sound of joy and mirth and jest. It is the din that makes her begin to shiver with apprehension. Many of those laughs and voices are familiar. She has known them, become acquainted with them, been intimate with them in the shadows and lamp-lit nights of Bethany and Galilee. She can almost identify each bellow, each grunt by name. But, suddenly, she stops. Her heart skips over itself. There is another laugh, another voice, different from the rest that wafts out towards her like a breeze of Lebanese perfume. A voice warm and comforting – inviting. Come, it seems to purr.

Perfume. Yes. Sweet-smelling. Incense. Myrrh.

She looks, unsure, down at the tiny jar in her hand. Will he like it? Should she go back and get another? Will they deride her? Perhaps she has made a mistake. Yes, she has. She shouldn’t have come here. She needs must go back to her dark alleyways and smeared mirrors. She mustn’t, under any instance, disturb him.

She turns with a swirl and sets off.


She stops dead in her tracks. That voice. She turns back and looks through the giant door and her eyes meet his…and she begins to shake again. The fear returns but, with it, a new sentiment. A new emotion: the ice-cold craving for freedom.

She floats towards him.

She puts one unsteady foot through the door and then the other and quivers into the room. She looks down at the floor, she cannot look up for she is consumed with shame. Everyone here knows who she is. The chatter dies down and the house becomes as quiet as a Galilean night. She stutters unsteadily towards the man in the corner. Her heart thuds loudly against the frail vault of her chest… doosh…doosh…doosh.

Cowhide-sandals shuffle away from her, hairy legs are dragged out of the way. They must not be touched by the unclean garment of a well-known courtesan. What is she doing here? It’s daytime, so unlike her! Mumbles and grumbles astir. Many are familiar.

She is flushed. Red-hot with emotion. She wants to turn back and run. Back to the familiar darkness, the gaping hollowness of eventide in Galilee, the whispering corridors, the jewels, the wine, the strong hands against her throat, the sparkling emeralds, the white pearls, the glowing rubies, the robust palm across her cheek, the dragging by the hair, the emptiness of it all, Die, whore! You love the money, do you? Harlot! Die! The opium leaves, the wine, the wine, the wine, the soft silk, the glitter, the hot bruises on her back, the big bellies, the blood, crimson sheets, crimson scarves, crimson lips, I look so pretty, I am a Galilean flower, I bloom in the sunshine, isn’t she pretty? So pretty. Blood, blood, why is there so much blood? I want to die, I want to die…please Lord, let me die.

The pain.

The perfume.

Pure nard. In a small jar. In her dainty hand.

She falls under the weight of it all. Seven years. Seven demons. She collapses to her knees at the Feet. The Feet of God. She vomits it all out. It bursts forth through her like a river crashing through its dam. It drowns all, it consumes all, it submerges all.

And Mary wept. Like the world was coming out of her Mary wept. Like a thorn bush ripped out from her soul Mary wept. She sobbed save me, Lord! She sobbed help me, Lord! She sobbed don’t let me die, Lord!

She sobbed please forgive me, Lord.

She sobbed I’m sorry, Lord.

And the heat of contrition brought a fresh rain of tears. She was sorry for seven years. She was sorry. A contrition more intense than the guilt, because guilt comes from fear but contrition comes from love. A whole world of sin she wept for, and a whole world of it she poured at those Feet.

Drenched. The Feet of God, soaked in the tears of a woman.

Look at your precious Feet! I have ruined them!

And with the famous, silky, long raven-black locks of hair she wiped those Feet. With a tenderness unfelt before in that little beating heart she stroked those Feet… with a surge of affection, a burning of sentiment, with the hot simmering of human love she stroked those Feet. And she kissed them. She touched the Holy of Holies with the softness of her lips, and thy sins are forgiven thee, My Daughter.

The voice. That voice

She looked up, and the eyes of woman looked into the eyes of God. And in a swoon she took the small jar of perfume, broke it over His head and anointed Him. She tilted it and let her love anoint the Son of Man. She showered the Messiah with the fragrance of filial affection, and God was bathed with the aroma of the love of His creature, with the flawed love of a human heart He was washed, and He savoured the sweet scent of His very own Image.

And seven devils fled to Egypt. Hades was consumed in an uproar. Jerusalem salvaged once more. Zion, the city on the Mount. Behold, she shines ever more brilliantly! And she rejoices, Daughter Zion, the sound of singing and jubilation is heard in her once more, and she beholds anew the Crowning of Her King. Her Love. Her Life. Her True Love. Her Only Love.

This post was created with our nice and easy submission form. Create your post!


Written by John Barigye (0)

Lover of good books. Lover of good music. Lover of good movies. Lover of God. Lover of Christ. Lover of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Lover of good, deep topics. Lover of deep connections. Lover of writing. Lover of human beings.

What do you think?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Embracing Change: A Path Forward for Ugandan Rugby