Sunday, October 10, 2010


I lie naked, enfolded in water-sound and mist. The polished stone is warm beneath me, and I am surprised to notice how my aging body rests without pain on its hard flatness. The room is small, secluded and secure.

Firm hands scrub hard every inch of me, then anoint tender skin with oil. Scents born on steam permeate the intimate space and minister calm to my deep inside. Warm water sprays away detritus of dirt and death. Strong fingers entangle long hair to massage my scalp, and more water is poured, again and again, until the suds of cleansing swirl down the drain and all residue is gone.

I think of You, Jesus. You are always here, but today I am conscious of Your presence.

I am awash in the stories of Your naked body removed gently from the cross, of the ministry of loving hands to enfold Your death in oily spices and herbs of preparation. Doing unto You as Your Father looked on.

I wonder how the extravagant anointing of that sinful woman, and later of Your dear friend Mary, felt to you. The fragrance, their tears that understood some small part of all that Your love could mean to them. You experienced their touch, and I wonder today if it was balm to Your soul? You, Lord of All, in frail human body. Incarnate. Physical. Sensual. Did you, too, love the flow of fragrance and salt tears, the warm spread of cleansing water and nourishing oil?

And how about that day when you bent to wash their feet? To scrub with water and the towel. Perhaps to massage away the tight aches of long walking, the bruises of hard ground and stone? The sure touch of quiet ministry to body in a way that penetrated their frightened, weary souls.

I recall the stories. I muse whether the hammam, this ancient Roman bathing tradition, was a way of life for You. But there is more. You are today present here, indwelling my frail tent. As I receive this ministry with gratitude, You also receive. As I dwell in the grace of this moment, we share the pleasure.

You are Lord of the Universe. I am frail child in aging body lying on warm, smooth stone. Somehow invested with Your glory. Full of praise, deeply grateful, a tad mystified.

Blessed be Your Name. Amen.

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