Three Loves

By Ann Applegarth - Roswell, New Mexico, USA - Lent/Easter 2011



Although some have identified the woman in Luke 8 as Mary Magdalene, there is no consensus for this.

The Woman Taken in Adultery

The night is dark. Oh, where is absent moon?
Blossoms in the courtyard scent the air.
I am alone, alive, but cannot sleep.

I pace my room, then lie and close my lids
to see once more that pile of jagged stones,
the blaze of hate and wildness in men's eyes.
I feel the bruises throb on arms and wrists.
I see the man called Jesus glare and bend.
I watch his finger writing in the sand.
I hear the heavy panting of my breath,
the frantic fearful drumming of my heart.
I see him stand again and hear his voice.
I see him bend and write some other words.
I feel hard fingers loosen from my wrists.
Amazed, I watch accusers slink away.
I see again this Jesus' radiant face --
implacable and strong, yet passing kind.
I hear him say to go and sin no more
and know that my choice must be to obey.

I'll give to him the little life he saved --
and love -- that's all a woman can repay.
And yet tonight I shall not lie and sleep.
I'll stay awake and wait for blessed day.

Roman Catholics identify the woman in Luke 7:36-50 as Mary Magdalene.


I have no words.
These tears must speak
of gratitude and love.
O, Lord, I kneel and bathe your feet
with salty droplets, tears of life,
the sweetest cleansing flood.

I have no words.
My hair must be the towel
to wick away these tears.
O, Lord, I kneel and kiss
away the salty drops,
caress your holy feet
with softest auburn tress.

I have no words.
I bring my only gift,
this alabaster box
of ointment dear.
I smooth the precious balm
on each beloved toe.
Strong scent of healing herbs is sweet,
and silken smoothness of the oil is rich,
my fingers work with care and deepest love,
my heart near bursts with boundless gratitude.

You, Lord, need no words.

In the tradition of the Eastern Orthodox Church, the woman at the well (John 4:5-42) became a follower of Christ, was baptized, and was later martyred. Called Photini, which means "light" -- the light received from Christ -- she is recognized as an Orthodox saint.


He speaks to a Samaritan?
And I a woman, too?
His voice is firm. I glance away.
"Do thou, O Jew, ask drink
from one you view as dirt?"
He asks again.
How can this be? A cup from me?

He tells me passing strange
of water somehow filled with life.
His voice is kind. I lift my eyes.
His eyes are blazing like the stars --
my soul and brain ignite; my body shakes.
I cannot see this clear or understand.
What can it mean for tongue to never thirst?

And then he tells me all I ever did,
my shameful secret life -- those years exposed.
His voice is soft. I bow my head.
My ears take in the wonder of his words:
an everlasting stream within --
a well to make me pure again --
oh, can it be? Might this be He?

I kneel -- He bids me rise.
His light has made it clear what I must do:
I leave the water jug beside the well
and hasten to the town so I can tell
that I have met the Christ --
that it is truly He
who wields the only power to forgive
and who will quench all thirst eternally.