A couple of weeks ago, I made a decision that I knew would cause upset among the people close to me.
I felt I had to stay in France longer than I intended, and I didn’t know exactly how long. I had meetings I felt were very important, and I promised I would give specifics within the next two days.
I had never done anything like that before. I am a woman, and was always a girl, who followed the rules. I did what I was told. I operated from a place of fear about what everyone thought. But now, I was coming to terms with the fact that I am an adult, capable of making my own decisions. I have that power, and I am entitled to it. Of course decisions have consequences. But they are also mine to make.
My kids, and their pain and hurt at the unknown, weighed on me, and caused me many tears. I continually prayed. I felt assured that all would be okay, even if the present moment created upset. Sometimes, I knew—and explained to them—we have to make choices that we think are best for the long-term, even if it causes disruption for a little while.
The story of who I am, how I operate, and what would (or will) be said about me, was not in my control. I would not be able to determine the narrative. I just had to have faith.
Most people don’t have this kind of faith. Most people think having this kind of faith makes you deranged. Courage and craziness probably have the same root.
That morning, after I showered, my stomach fluttering, I remembered the bottle of myrrh I had bought in Vezelay, at a gift shop next to the basilica of Mary Magdalene.
I opened it for the first time, and I put it on my shoulders and chest. And the smell, instantaneously, made me realize the love Mary had for Jesus. It brought tears to my eyes.
I am not saying I’m Jesus. I just feel close to him, and close to his story. I find pieces of myself in him when I read. On paper, Jesus looks like a crazy man. He makes decisions that don’t conform to rational thought. (Love, if we’re honest with each other, is not a rational thing. People die. People leave. All of life is fleeting. Why do we keep on loving?) Jesus had no home, and walked from town to town, preaching a strange message, embodying love, taking risks. All the men in power scratched their heads, or talked about him, or tried to make others turn away.
And he knew, that simply by saying certain things, he would be killed. He knew that was his fate. But he was not fearful, because his strength knew no bounds, and neither did his faith. So he navigated his life, as trying as it was, with the knowledge (and hope) that it would lead to greater good.
But damn, a fate like that has to weigh on you. Knowing people don’t quite understand you, and may never understand you, but that you have to do what you have to do, regardless of what anyone says or does. To know you have followed your heart, and done what you believed you were put on earth to do, and that would result in torture and mocking and crucifixion.
So that scene in the Bible where Mary comes in and pours myrrh all over him. That sensuous scene. That ballsy scene where she moves past all the apostles of little faith and douses his hair and wipes his feet with the perfume of earth, a scent that immediately grounds you and lifts your spirit. A scent that was also present at his birth.
That woman knew what he was facing, and how to take care of him, in a way no one else did.
She knew what he needed, and she gave it to him, unabashedly.
I am inclined to think she was a special kind of confidante that understood the stress he was under, the weariness of such a lonely, spiritual path. And so she brought him back into his senses, into his body, and treated him like the king he was.
This love, and this story, needs to be uncovered and told.
Because it is the kind of love we all long for. A love that goes beyond words, beyond mortality. A love that is so deep and abiding it reconfigures the wiring of our minds, of what is possible, of what is real.
Most people move through their lives checking boxes, fulfilling duties. I am not saying that’s bad, or wrong. It’s just fact. We all need those practicalities. Things at a basic level need to function.
But I am a person who has always been enlivened and impassioned by the bigger picture, the search for wholeness, the desire for awakening, and for a union of souls. And I can’t care too much if other people don’t understand. They don’t have to. I’d like them to, of course, but I wouldn’t put any money on it.
That doesn’t mean I will give up on the hope I have of a better future, or give up on who I am, or why I am here. Regardless of whether I accomplish anything great in my lifetime, I will not stop trying.
I know my heart, and so does God.
God knows yours, too.
Weed out anything in there that isn’t love. And when you do, and you feel the fullness of that garden? Please don’t keep it hidden. I don’t think hiding your love does anybody any good. Even if it’s possible you can lose.