I have always believed so strongly in the power of anointing. I often used the analogy of a knight going out to do the bidding of the king. If she/he is beset by robbers but has the seal of the king…his/her life is protected in the knowledge, known even by robbers that the king, if present, would protect this servant.
Our anointing, of blessing from our chrism, is sign of our Spirit’s protection that follows us wherever we go.
Our anointing calls us to acceptance of our difficulties and to fight with all our will to rise above them or to move through with them with serenity as Spirit leads.
Our anointing calls us to recognize our fears and to seek help and assistance to face them.
Our anointing calls us to open to the natural healing processes our God has provided our body and all of God’s creation including the healing gifts of nurses and of surgeons, of therapists and of friends.
Our anointing calls us to recognize our own strength in God’s strength and to rest in God’s strength when our own strength fails us.
Our anointing calls us to look into one another’s eyes and acknowledge hurt and pain and share hurt and pain in the comforting gaze of one who will go there with us and bolster our efforts.
Our anointing calls us to find strength deeper than we knew existed and share that strength with others whose needs are not so obvious but pressing none the less.
Have you ever had your feet rubbed by another? You thought you were just fine but realized after that a foot rub was exactly what you needed. You feel compelled to offer or receive a foot rub again.
So it is with anointing. It is often the sacrament we didn’t know we needed.
In our culture, pain is seen as something to be avoided at all costs. I have spoken with my husband about end of life decisions around pain. As I decided in childbirth, I do not want the pain taken away when my life ends. I want to, if able, decide that some pain medication may help me be present. I want to be present with the necessary pain. I want to provide the opportunity that Christ provided Mary: to look deeply into the eyes of the suffering and find love.
Not, of course, suffering for sufferings sake. But in a world of free will suffering does occur. When suffering occurs, as I heard Bill and Melinda Gates say in a video of a commencement speech they presented together, I want be an individual and raise individuals who: “do not look away”.
As Church, when we anoint, we “do not look away”. We look deeply into one another’s eyes. We recognize the Chrism/The Spirit with us together. We recognize the love that entwines our fear, lifts up our hope, and calls us to fight for change or rest in acceptance. We love wholy.