“We act in power because it is God who acts in history.” – Cecilia González-Andrieu
During our Monday meditation on the Gospel story of the woman anointing Jesus’ feet with perfume and her tears (Luke 7:36-50), I suddenly imagined myself to be the servant girl peering at what is happening in the dining room from the kitchen door. I am about 13 and I am enthralled. Who is this woman with the courage and the audacity to walk into the home of this Pharisee, claim her space, and do the work her soul must have? Although I could be reprimanded for peering from the kitchen, it is something I must risk. I have to see this. I feel myself breathing in her courage, her resolve, her great love for what she has seen and experienced through Jesus. Then I muster my own courage to grab a bowl of fruit in the kitchen and take it into the dining room and place it on a side table. All the while I am quietly breathing in all that is happening – the alabaster jar, the smell of the perfume, the woman’s tears, using her hair to anoint his feet. I am connecting to the vital undercurrent of Sisterhood in which I am cheering her on to do the work her soul must have for herself and for all of us. Jesus is looking at this woman with tenderness and I can feel the infinite love in his heart leaking out. Then I catch him glimpsing me out of the corner of his eye, and his love pours out over me too. He sees me, the servant girl, the one in the kitchen quietly doing what is commanded and expected of her. But he sees all of me, what is seen and what is unseen. He sees my heart, my hunger, my soul, my voice, my eyes, my mind, my working hands. He sees the words and the stories that are always swirling inside of me.
In that moment I understand that this scene between Jesus and this woman will be written down someday. It will be written down in a sacred text for all to remember, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.” It will be written down so that girls and women throughout the ages can glimpse the no matter whatness of the love of Jesus. It will be written down so that they can glimpse the courage and audacity in the woman that is inside of them too. It will be written down so that they know that their stories and their lived experiences matter. No matter how humble, no matter how small, no matter how quietly done, no matter the color of her skin, no matter her poverty, a woman’s life matters.
I walk back into the kitchen standing taller. I feel grace flowing through my female body. Whatever reprimand might be hurled at me for having left the kitchen, I can stand fully in my dignity. Not only that, I witnessed the woman anointing Jesus’ feet. I tapped into my inner poder to risk leaving the kitchen to see what unfolded between them. I have the story and I will share it with the other servant girls, with my mother and my aunts, with my sisters, cousins, friends and neighbors. I will be one of the ones who proclaims this story to ensure it is known throughout the community until the day arrives that this sacred story is written in a sacred text.