Monday, October 8, 2007

tears and tear bottles

There is an accont in the Gospel of Luke where Jesus is a guest at a feast. It was the custom at such feasts for the guests to recline on couches with their feet away from the table. Held in Simon's house, the public were allowed to circulate around the fringes. This gives a woman access to the Master. She proceeded to wash his feet with her tears, wiped them with her hair, and anointed them with expensive ointment. How could a woman shed enough tears to wash a person's feet?

It is possible that she brought her bottle of tears to Jesus. These tears, saved during her lifetime, were the symbol of her sorrow. She washed Jesus' feet with her tears, an act which was meaningful to the woman and also to Jesus. She gave her most precious items - her tears and the box of costly ointment - to the Christ. Instead of keeping these treasures until she died, this woman poured them out on him as tokens of her love and gratitude for his mercy. Her life had completely turned around due to some change that had taken place as she listened to him preach or felt his healing touch.

In Persia and Egypt tears were wiped from the cheeks and the eyes of mourners and were stored in a tear bottle, where they were carefully preserved. The custom was probably based on the belief that their tears would prove to God that the person had been righteous during their lieftime. An individual's tear bottle was buried with him at death. Tear bottles have been found in many of the ancient tombs throughout the Easts. These bottles were made of alabaster, since glass was not yet in use.

What a precious gift she gave in gratitude. What a precious gift she had been given. The Bible says in Revelation that the time is coming when "God shall wipe away all tears" from our eyes. There will be no cause for crying and no more pain. We do not use tear bottles today but many of us have shed our share of tears. As I've studied Christian Science over the years, one of the many benefits has been a greater sense of joy and fewer times of sadness or sorrow. In a way, I have given all those tears I would have shed to God. And been greatly rewarded.

Go in peace.

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