Hespeler, 27 March, 2016 © Scott McAndless – Easter
Luke 23:50-24:3, Luke 24:13-32, Psalm 118:1, 2, 14-24
ary Magdalene opened the package of spices and ointments that Joanna had brought back from the market and inhaled deeply. She was suddenly overwhelmed by the scents: cinnamon, cassia, balsam and resin. She could even smell the small amounts of frankincense and myrrh that her dear friend, Joanna, had only been able to afford by selling the very last pieces of jewellery that she had plundered from her abusive husband, Chuza, when she had fled his household to follow Jesus.
It smelled beautiful, but it was also emotionally dangerous for her. Smell is a powerful trigger for the memory. The part of your brain that processes olfactory information is only separated by a few synapses from your amygdala which is the part of your brain where your most powerful and emotionally charged memories are stored. That is why sometimes just getting a whiff of some scent that is connected to your past can transport you back to events that you may have thought you had completely forgotten.
And there was no question that the smells of these spices and resins were connected to many traumatic memories in the lives of all the women who were there in that room. Mary herself was instantly transported back to the day when her intended husband was drowned while fishing on the Sea of Galilee. She remembered the deep grief and confusion that she felt as they carried the body of her promised husband to his family tomb outside the town of Magdala. At that moment it had seemed as if her entire life had been over and, in a very real sense it was.