Monday, January 13, 2014

Anoint : Another Word

The week before Christmas, my mom came to help us move. The next day, she filled a small jar of oil, with which she planned to anoint our new home. I rolled my eyes internally. We had never been a very charismatic family, but it was somehow just like my mother, to attack moments like these with all available resources. She had done it once before, in the dark days, pouring oil over the surfaces of my sister’s room. I would let her do it again here, though more out of love than of hope.

But the next few days were busy, full of nonstop packing, painting, moving. I forgot about the oil completely until the day after she left. When I walked into our new kitchen on Christmas eve morning, I found the small jar atop the counter by the oven. It stared at me blankly, half full with the word love written on the outside, plastic wrap in place of a plug.This was also just like my mother, to make do at the last minute without shame.I stared at the oil, wondering: Had she quietly spread some of it out while I had been busy, then placed it there casually? Or had she not found the time and placed it there intentionally, hoping beyond hope that I might do it myself? I had no intention of anointing our home myself, so I tried not to think about the jar, but I left it there all the same, letting it catch my gaze from time to time over the next few days.


After the holiday, I headed back to our old place, just a few blocks away, with a bucket of cleaning supplies. It was so empty when I walked in, that place where we had spent three and a half years of our lives. I set down my bucket and pulled out the broom. As I swept I thought of all the moments, large and small, to which this home had served as the backdrop.

I thought of big communal dinners around the dining room table, and long impromptu conversations in the kitchen. I thought of tears shed, mine and others’, over that shabby couch in the living room. I thought of the rotating cast of characters who had entered, sometimes knocking, through that front door painted dark blue. And I thought of the guest room that had become a nursery, and of the young couple who had become parents right there in that very house, as I swept past tiny milky spit up stains that must have gone unnoticed beneath a rug.

After the moments lost in reflection, I pulled out the jug of vinegar water to mop, just like my mother taught me, and I drenched those hardwood floors with abandon, mopping that place from corner to corner as it had never been mopped before. As I moved from room to room, pouring the liquid out across the floor in great puddles, I couldn’t deny the feeling that I was anointing that place, for all that it had given us and all it might yet give.


There is this blogging community that I follow, a community of global women whose mission is to love. In the midst of all the talk about One Words around the New Year, the leader there posted about her word, which she believed to be for the whole community: Anointing. It was at that point that I could no longer ignore the set of circumstances that had led me, a woman of substantially more doubt than faith, to consider the act of anointing.

But what does anointing, the act of consecrating something, of declaring it sacred, have do do with me, when my world seems to be turning increasingly more, for lack of a better word, secular? What does anointing have to do with me, when all words of hope I try to swallow come quickly back up my throat in sour regurgitation? What do anointing and holiness and hope have to do with me? This very week I have identified infinitely more with the beauty of these words than of any others.

And that’s when I realized, I want to anoint that. I want to anoint the rebellious, wild, holy mess of that, of vulnerability and rawness and honesty, in myself and in others. I want to drench it all in oil and scream that it is sacred no matter how confidently you may call it unclean. I want to declare that there is a strange kind of hope even in hopelessness, in finding the words for anger and doubt and a sense of betrayal, and then speaking them.

That is what I want to be committed to anointing this year, in a million different ways, both in my local community and in this strange online world I find myself in. I want to be about telling you, right now, that there is a sacredness in whatever way you find yourself engaging with divinity, be it through anger or community or silence.

Your skipping church and your lack of prayers and your curses hurled, they are holy. They are consecrated and dripping with oil. They are anointed.