So … over the last few months I’ve been ‘hanging out’ at our soup kitchen off and on. Just watching the people that we serve and assessing how the Mission can serve them better, and looking for more ways to support my staff in serving them. Over the last year I’ve also been reading the gospels, studying Jesus’s life here on earth; who he ‘hung out’ with and all of the miracles he performed for those people.
While reading the word one day, I was strongly moved by Mary’s act of worship, as recorded in John chapter 12; her pouring out a jar of spikenard and ‘washing’ Jesus’s feet with it, and then drying them with her hair. What an amazing thing to do! I personally have a vile of Spikenard that was harvested from the Holy Land, pure and rich, and I find the aroma very intoxicating. Very nice! As I thought more about that, I thought of the people that come to our soup kitchen every day, and how our soup kitchen would be the kind of place Jesus would ‘hang out’ at, and as I went deeper with those thoughts I found the words for this poem. I hope you like it!
Spikenard & Smoke
I can’t help but wonder what it must have been like,
sitting there with Simon in his simple leprous shack.
Was it just another day, or did it just start out that way?
And the lady that came, was she dressed all in black?
A jar full of spikenard that was broken for the King,
yet scolded like a child; ‘why was it wasted like that?’
Their nostrils plugged with indignance, … and you spoke:
“Leave her alone – for she has done a great thing!”
The askers of bread, and the feet that can’t walk,
those with closed eyes, and the ones who ‘see’ things,
the smell of tobacco, the smoke in the rags that they wear.
This is my soup kitchen and these are your people;
paper cut-outs living in pre-fabricated cardboard boxes,
“You will always have the poor” – they’re everywhere!
And when you hung on the tree did you think of the room?
Did the sweetness from the clay make-up for his kiss?
Did the fragrance in the air carry you to your tomb?
… and the curtain in the temple was torn in two
… it was Spikenard & Smoke, and all things made new,
… yes, … Spikenard & Smoke, your people and you!