28 March 2021
We are womb to tomb people. In January we pray and we march to protect life in the womb, and hopefully life in all its stages, too. How often, though, do we really embrace the beauty and dignity of dying? More specifically do we ever take the time to think of the moments after life leaves our bodies? Do we ponder being prepared for burial?
Today’s reading brings us to thinking about preparation for burial. In Mark 14:8 Jesus says “She has done what she could. She has anticipated anointing my body for burial.” Here Jesus is speaking of the woman who came to Simon’s house with the alabaster jar of perfumed oil, Spikenard. “She broke the alabaster jar and poured it over His head” (14:3), anointing Jesus for burial. As one who would be buried as a criminal, it would have been commonplace for him not to have been anointed at all.
All of this brings me to the story of Lizz Lovett. Lizz, a wife and mother, long suffered the ravages of cancer. Her beloved husband, Ryan wanted to honor Lizz to the very last and researched ancient Judeo-Christian rituals and prayers as a final act of love and service to her, to include how to honor her body upon death. He wanted her to know that his love for her continued even after she died.
Ryan and eight others, including Lizz’s mother and sister lovingly prepared her body for Christian burial after she died. This included anointing her body with spikenard and wrapping her body in burial cloth. Ryan, like the woman who anointed Jesus, knew how important and sacred it was to care for someone womb to tomb.
I can’t imagine a more loving and eternal act. Ryan said that by lovingly preparing her body for Christian burial he participated in preparing his wife for the marriage ceremony of her union with Christ in Heaven. He gave her up, with dignity and tenderness and faith, to the end.
The Gospel reading speaks of preparations for Christ’s passion, but should also have us reflect on how we prepare ourselves and others for our union with Christ in heaven.
You can read Lizz and Ryan’s story here.