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The Scent of LIFE!

Anna finished pounding the herbs and spices for her mother. Mama was making sachets with dried myrrh.  Myrrh was one of Anna’s favorites!  It smelled so good! She couldn’t understand, though, why adults wasted it on the dead!  Mama had told her it was to hide the smell of decay and death during the mourning time.  Anna supposed she would understand those mysteries when she grew up–for now she was content to learn about the plants and their healing properties. And their wonderful smells!

She had learned the hard way that myrrh might smell good–but it tasted awful! So bitter! Her mouth puckered at the memory of it. Sayura had told her it would keep her well when everyone was sick last winter. Anna didn’t wait for her mother’s instructions, thinking she knew just what to do. Well! it tasted so bitter she vowed to always wait for Mama’s instruction from then on!

She couldn’t quite decide how to describe its smell. Sweet…balmy…musky…like a warm summer day in the forest.

Different spices and herbs had different ways of releasing their flavor, fragrance or healing properties. Some simply needed the container holding them to be opened or broken.  Others would be heated, like incense, with the aroma helping to lift spirits or bring healing fragrance. Spices such as the cloves she had just finished pounding needed crushed to bring out their aroma and flavor.

“You may put the powdered cloves in that jar, Anna, then please put the rest of the myrrh powder into those sachets for me.  I am taking some of these to Salome and Mary Magdalene.  I need to get them there before sundown and the Sabbath begins.  If you have two of those sachets done before Eliana comes, give them to her. They are fighting sickness there.”

“Yes, Mama.  Why do Salome and Mary Magdalene want the myrrh?”

Mama looked at her young daughter.  How much should she say?  With a heavy heart she replied, “A loved one has died, Anna.”

“Oh, I’m so sorry!  Please tell them my prayers are with them.”

“I will. Thank you, Anna, ” said Mama as she left.

Later, as they gathered for the Sabbath, everyone was quite solemn. The events of the day had been strange and tragic. The revered Rabbi, Jesus, had been crucified. Anna could hardly comprehend the cruelty of men!  What had He done that was worthy of death?  The world seemed extra dark that night. Even the Shabbat candles Mama lit didn’t seem to penetrate the awful darkness….

As Mama tucked her in and blessed her, she asked the question that had been on her mind. “Mama?”

“Yes, Daughter?”

“Why did Master Nicodemus bring so much myrrh and aloes to the grave?”

“Papa says that is the way to show respect   Master Nicodemus highly respected Rabbi Jesus. As did we all!”  Mama took a deep breath.

“Why did God allow this to happen?” cried Anna.

Mama stroked her hair as she pulled her close and let her cry. “Little One, many times we do not fully understand the ways of God.  That is why He is God and we are not!  But we can know that He is able to bring good out of–”  she broke off briefly– “out of even this.”

Her own tears found their way down  her cheeks.  She had asked those same questions! Oh, the wickedness of pride and anger! Rabbi Jesus was so meek…so mild…why this jealousy and injustice…

“Mama?”  Anna’s own sobs had subsided.

“Yes, Anna?”

“Since Master Nicodemus brought so much myrrh and aloes, will Salome and Mary Magdalene still need the myrrh you took to them today?”

“Yes, my Little One.  They will go to the grave after the Sabbath to add their spices to what Master Nicodemus and Master Joseph have already brought.”

“Because they respected Him, too?”

“Because they loved Him…as we all did.”  Tears flowed freely now.


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Anna awoke to commotion. She tried to figure out why there was something going on when it was still dark–was it a robber?  She listened and realized no, it wasn’t a robber…she thew off her blanket and ran over to peer down the ladder at the cooking area…Papa was excitedly saying something to Mama and it looked like he was putting on his coat and rushing off.

Throwing her own robe about her, she hurried down the ladder.

“Mama!  What is it?!”

“Oh, Anna!  Mary and Salome have been to the garden, where Rabbi Jesus was taken for His burial, and the most amazing thing has happened!”  Mama’s eyes were wide with wonder and amazement.

“What?!  What Mama?!”  Anna’s own heart started beating faster with the anticipation.

“They say that Rabbi Jesus has risen from the dead! He appeared to Mary!”

Anna stared at her mother in shock! Could this be true?!  She knew her own mama was not given to foolish tales like the gossiping women. But this seemed so–so–


“Yes, Daughter! Yes!  Papa has gone to see the disciples to learn more!”

Anna knew there would be no more sleep! She went over to the part of their home that housed the animals and milked the goat, then she helped her mother prepare food, for surely Papa would be hungry when he came home!

It seemed to Anna to be forever, but later that morning Papa came home. The light in his eyes said it all–wonder, amazement, joy!

“I have spoken to the disciples–many have seen Him! It is true, Naomi, it is true!  He is risen!  He is risen, indeed!”

“Praise be to God!”  Mama said.

“Naomi–this proves what Rabbi Jesus said was true–He truly is the Son of God!”

“Papa!  Mama!”  Anna’s eyes were wide with her own wonder.

“What is it, Child?” Papa asked.

“I was just thinking of the Psalm which says that His garments shall smell of myrrh, aloes and cassia!*  All that myrrh…instead of covering the smell of death for Rabbi Jesus, it is the smell of healing–of life! The myrrh that Master Nicodemus anointed Him with was just a picture, like you teach us, right Papa?!”

Papa smiled.  “Yes, yes dear Anna!  He has made peace with God for us! He truly is the Anointed One!”


*Psalm 45:8




Note:  Herb and spice information in this story is for informational purposes only.


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