Wednesday, April 21, 2010

She loved much: the end of an alabaster vase

Oops. Boom. Shattered.

Late last Saturday afternoon the husband's elbow went flying out as he removed the tablecloth, and the stand holding my alabaster vase careened, and the vase fell to the floor, its lip shattered.

Although I witnessed the whole thing as I did my homework in the living room, I didn't hear a crack and thought perhaps it had been spared. That God had allowed it to remain intact because He knew of its worth to me even more than I did. I sucked in hard, audibly, and held my breath.

The husband confirmed my fear, though, and the look on his face was one of pure panic and adrenaline. I shook my head slowly, sadly. I sucked my breath in again and said I could not speak to him. Not now.

The next minutes are hazy, but my mom called, and announced that my entire family was up at the hospital three hours away cooing over my new nephew (without me), and I lost it. Lost. It. Completely. Mom was concerned, but I couldn't speak to anyone. And as David overheard my tears and the pain in my voice, he fretted and stewed.

My alabaster vase story goes like this: years ago an incredible mentor, Kelly, helped me to understand the extravagance of God's love for us when I was facing some deep and dark times. She embodied Jesus to me.  And so she special ordered this alabaster vase to present to me as a gift: to remind me of God's extravagant love and how my life is a love offering to those around me. (See the story of the woman with the alabaster jar in Luke 7.) And something in me became more alive, more in tune to loving others well, because of the giving of this memento. The vase moved everywhere with me and was always in a prominent location wherever I lived.

Since I have very few fine things in my life, and few sentimental items, I didn't realize how much this gift meant to me. Or what would happen if it suddenly shattered. I wasn't prepared. I couldn't even look at it. 

In just moments, I felt situationally depressed.

And that is when the husband entered the living room, a pained look on his face. He sat down on the ottoman in front of me. I told him the story of the vase through my sobs and tears.  Then he placed his hand on my face, saying, "I will never forget this day." My heart stirred. "Why?" I asked. "You didn't mean to knock it over." And he said something about the significance of my pain and how much this had hurt me and how everything in him wished he could change things. 

Sad though I was, a small burden lifted. Someone had acknowledged who I am and why in the world this loss touched a part of me I didn't know existed. A foundation stone built into my life by a dear friend. One who probably doesn't realize the impact she's had on me. David entered into my pain and acknowledged that it's OK to hurt. 

And, if I'm honest, I have to say that it still hurts. I can't look at the vase, so David has packed it away...probably in a box with the shattered pieces scattered around like sawdust. Ironic, isn't it? My alabaster vase, broken, like the jar the woman poured out of so lavishly, as she dispensed costly nard perfume on his dusty feet. 

The thought makes me ask Jesus if I am generous like her, if I love those he loves without expecting anything in return, especially to the least of these, the "least-favorites," the troubled, the poor, and the weak. Perhaps I will always remember the day the vase dropped as well. Maybe it will remind me of Abba's love, subduing my selfishness to help me love more extravagantly and recklessly.

If it does, it will be worth the pain. Oh, to have this written in my obituary one day: 

"She loved . . . much."

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