on being anointed.

On the last night of Glen East, we had a worship service. At the end of the service, my priest friend explained that we were being anointed to remind us of our calling as artists. “Beauty will save the world,” Image declares. They wanted us to know that what we had done all week was holy work.

I had felt that holiness in the midst of the workshop. The other attendees wrote things that exposed their core selves. Each person’s story is sacred. It is also unfinished. It was a balancing act to hold those things gently as we offered feedback in an effort to continue to draw the beauty from the stories we read.

During the week, I had felt a great sense of peace and belonging. I told Mike that these were my people and that I was so glad to have come. But as soon as the word anointing was mentioned, I got the old familiar feelings of withdrawal and hesitation.

My formative years were spent in a church that emphasized the gifts of the Holy Spirit in a very demonstrative way. I get a little bit antsy when words like anointing are used, because, in my experience, anointing was paired with words that still confuse me. Words like prophecy and vision and slain in the spirit.

“I don’t know if I can do that,” I whispered to my seatmate. She looked me full in the face and said, “Yes, you can.” I sat in the chair with my chest pressed to my knees and I prayed.

When it was my turn, I walked up and the priest placed the oil on my forehead in the sign of a cross. I was anointed in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. All around me, it smelled like a pantry, like a kitchen where beautiful things were being made. I looked at the priest and said, Amen.

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