Touching Greatness

She began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them. — Luke 7:38 NIV

A booklover to the core, I get a thrill when I’m passing through a town and see a library or a bookstore. So when I spied a quaint-looking bookstore as my husband and I strolled through the charming town of Northeast Harbor while on our vacation in Maine, I made a beeline for the door. 

This was no ordinary bookstore. Its shelves were lined with used, rare, and out-of-print old books. Browsing the titles, inhaling the mustiness, this former literature teacher was in heaven. 

When I pulled a gray, hardbound book from a shelf in the back of the store, I took an awed breath. The Song of Hiawatha, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s epic poem, had no copyright page, but its yellowed, thick pages told me it was old. And it was only $10. 

Holding the classic in my hands brought to mind other writers who have made the pages of literary history. I turned to the proprietor. 

“Do you have anything by Robert Frost?” 

I should have known I was in trouble when he pulled a stepstool to a wall of glassed-in bookshelves behind me and inserted a key. 

“This one,” he said, handing me a copy of West Running Brook, “is a second edition and is probably a little more than you want to spend. It’s autographed.”

I reverently opened the cover and ran my fingers over the signature of my favorite poet. I felt like Benjamin Gates did in National Treasure when he stood in the room where the Declaration of Independence was signed. Okay, it was just a movie, but I identified with the emotion portrayed in that scene.

“I’m touching greatness,” I breathed. 

I looked at the price: $1,250! 

But I could touch it for free. 

I bought Frost’s Versed in Country Things for only seventy-five dollars. 

“Consider it my birthday and Christmas presents,” I told my husband.

The experience reminded me of the time a woman wept at Jesus’ feet and kissed them. She knew she was touching greatness. So did Mary, Jesus’ mother, every time she held her baby, kissed a boo-boo on the toddler’s knee, wiped her tears from His dead face after He was taken down from the cross. And Mary Magdalene, who was so overjoyed seeing Him alive that first Easter morning she clung to Him. 

I often wish I could have lived in first century Bethany and, like Mary, sit at His feet. 

Then God reminds me that I touch greatness every day: when I run my fingers through my husband’s hair, when I hold a grandchild close, when I clasp my best friend’s hand as we say grace before a girls’ day out lunch, when I hug a friend at church, when I wrap my arms around a distraught, hurting soul and pray with her, sometimes right in the aisle of a grocery store.

Because every person, whether rich and famous or poor and obscure, is great in the eyes of God. 

Thank you, Lord, for reminding me of the value of every person on this planet. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son . . .” (John 3:16). Amen.

Read and reflect on Luke 7:36–50.

From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea: 101 devotional readings to savor during your time with God © 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved. 

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