Today I met with a woman who epitomizes weariness. Recently I have encountered more and more of these patients. The burdens of life causing emotional, psychological, and spiritual angst that manifests in bodies and suspends a heaviness in the air like pregnant cloud pleading for reprieve.
“I am the caregiver,” she muttered.
“Who cares for you?”
“No one, I suppose.”
“What would it look like for you to receive care?” I asked.
“I don’t really know.”
We went on to talk more about the details and how the stress was impacting her physical health. We exchanged several clichés and Bible verses meant to encourage weary souls. All the while, I watched her eyes well up further as she buttressed the seemingly impenetrable walls. Well practiced, she remained at surface level for quite some time. In Chaplain vernacular this is “being up in your head.”
I recognize it easily; I am a caregiver too. I love to host, but have a tendency to avoid being a guest. It takes intentionality to be that vulnerable. I prefer to do favors, offer a hand, share insight, do something. Anything.
I asked the woman if she remembered the story from the Gospels when Mary pours nard on Jesus’ feet. When she confirmed that she did, I simply stated that even the Lord rested and allowed others to care for him.
This was the pressure relief valve. Her shoulders dropped, she exhaled, and gravity finally had its way with her tears. Though she never needed it, she finally had permission.
I share this story to share the permission. For you. For me.
Though there is considerable debate and conflation surrounding the story of Jesus’ anointing, one thing is for certain: no one is above the need for love and compassion.
This is especially true in the face of difficult trials. In several accountings of the story, Jesus connects the perfume to his death. And not that it will prevent his death, nor his suffering, but that it is a “beautiful thing” in spite of it.
Though suffering might remain and hard things will still be there in the morning, we don’t have to do it alone. There is no time like the present to lean in toward community. Come, let us accept the care of one another. We are worthy of such extravagant love.