Mk 14:1-15-15:47 : She broke open the jar and poured the ointment on his head
Those who care for the dying say that the most important ingredient in a good death is meaning. And meaning means connection. The sense of belonging, of being linked to another or to otherness itself.
Meaning is more than explanation. Explanations, dogma, ring hollow at such times of unavoidable encounter with reality. (How we do anything to avoid reality!). At these times we find ourselves totally defenceless and exposed in front of the tribunal of reality. Concept turns into truth and we'd like to run as far away from it as possible.
It is the totality of it that matters and this makes the Passion of the Christ so absolute and so much of a portal for all humanity to enter utter, undifferentiated, stark reality. Then we are led into a form of experience so outside our realm of comfort and familiarity that we can neither explain nor control it.
It just happens - a devastating loss or disappointment, a reversal of expectations or dreams, a turning upside down of, well, everything. At such times our only defence is our sense of defencelessness, Because it is the only thing there is, it is the most authentic thing we can identify with. Not just our weakness, but our acceptance of our weakness, proves - against all the odds - to be our strength and resilience. This transports us from the universe of the ego - which is a reflection and false representation of reality - into another world.
But how can we take refuge in helplessness?
A sign manifests. A woman of questionable reputation breaks a jar and wastes a precious ointment and pours it on our head. In the other world it could have been sold and the money used to promote sustainable development of an organisation. But in this world it becomes a symbol. It tells us that breaking can be healing. That sacrifice can mean homage. That what seems a futile gesture may change the entire perception of anyone with eyes to see.
Today we start entering into what the past forty days in the desert have been preparing us for.
At first meditation makes us more painfully aware of all the ways the ego hijacks our reactions and controls our decisions. Then meditation makes us aware that we can change our imprisoning patterns and re-wire the whole ego system. Now we begin to see how this works.
When did you last have someone pour precious ointment on your head? As Rumi said: You are a sign, and a seeker after a sign; there is no better sign than the seeker after a sign.