This week's Bible Lesson includes the story of Mary Magdalene washing Jesus' feet. It says she washed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. That's a lot of tears.
I got to thinking about that and did a little research. While tears are mentioned frequently in the Bible, the tear bottle is mentioned only once. In Psalm 56 David prays, "Put thou my tears into thy bottle" (v.8). This was a prayer of David's when he was a fugitive fleeing from King Saul and had been captured by his nation's worst enemy, the Philistines. His tears were numerous.
Tears are the result of sorrow or suffering. In Persia and Egypt, tears were wiped from the cheeks and the eyes of mourners and carefully preserved based on the belief that these tears would prove to God that the person had been righteous during his lifetime and God would reward him mercifully. The tear bottles were buried with them at death.
It is possible Mary Magdalene brought her bottle of tears to Jesus. She washed his feet, a very meaningful act to both of them. She gave her most precious items - her tears and an alabaster box of ointment - to the Christ. She poured them out as a token of her love and gratitude for his mercy.
All this made me wonder if I was keeping a mental tear bottle, filling it with tears shed in sorrow or pain. Actually, I find that I am more likely to shed tears of joy from moments of happiness. But I can see how easy it would be to let such a mental tear bottle collect memories of unhappy times. To 'bottle' up those moments and hold on to them, maybe even expect God to bring justice to an unfair situation, forgiveness to harsh words or acts (my own or someone else's). See Lord, see how many tears I have shed over this!
Should you be so inclined you can purchase a tear bottle on Amazon.com for under $30.00. But I think I will be treasuring up moments of joy, blessing and healing instead. There have been plenty of those. How much better to go through the day expecting the unfoldment of good, a feeling of peace and happiness secure in God's love for me, His very own image and likeness. My divine Parent sees me as His beloved child with all the rights that includes.
Mary Magdalene gave Jesus the things that mattered most in her life. She repented of her past choices and received his benediction to 'go in peace'. That might mean she could go forward without any painful feelings about her past, no guilt, no self-condemnation.
And no further need for a tear bottle.
As we commune daily with the Christ, as we strive for right thinking and Truth knowing, as we move forward expressing a more spiritual outlook and understanding, we can leave behind any 'tear bottle' thinking as well.