I cannot remember the movie, but I remember the scene. Bad news came to her doorstep. She looked at the messenger with a level of desperation and told him not to say anything just yet. Because everything in her life was as it should be for that moment. She paused to capture it. So she could remember what it felt like. As soon as the words were uttered, everything in her life was turned upside down.
This is the pause in holy week. The days before everything changed for the disciples. Following the triumphal entry, Jesus wept for Jerusalem, the tables were overturned, and a widow gave all she had. In the calm and quiet, the disciples asked poignant questions, and Jesus gave answers they didn’t understand. I wonder if Jesus paused to capture those last moments with the disciples. They didn’t get it, but oh, how He loved them.
In the pause of an evening gathering, enters the woman with the alabaster jar. She broke it open and anointed Jesus with the precious nard oil contained inside. The expensive scent would be earthy, spicy, and slightly sweet. Ancient. The luxurious smell of deepest grief. It filled the house. Perhaps she paused to breathe it in. An olfactory memory captured. Jesus inhales the scent of His burial.
As I think of the days to come, I wonder if the disciples could still smell the costly perfume, reminded of that evening when everything seemed alright. The days and evenings of conversation, prayer, when Jesus told them He wouldn’t be with them much longer. They didn’t understand. If only they could rewind time and pause, be more present in the moment, cling to His every word. His every breath. But now, the lingering scent of perfume fades in their noses. Within hours, the smell of fear will rise.