“Olive oil is the dear friend of the Holy Spirit, it serves Her, following Her like a disciple.”

-St. Ephrem

The people of Israel bring myrrh, cassia and cinnamon
To make it holy, to set them apart,
To set God a place at the table.
The lure of sweet odor.

Ordinary nourishment, daily soothing salve.
The people knew its’ taste, the scent was ever on their skin and in their kitchens.
An offering to the gods infused with coriander and wine, honey, sage and rose.
Both commonplace and magic, medicine to seal and swallow, fuel for the lamp.
A dose of oil for the pain, an ounce to heal the wound,
emblem of life.

The Lord is anointed tenderly, oil dripping down his brow.
The woman who loves him preparing him for the dark journey.
Gethsemane: the garden with the olive press.
We remember our ancient healers, those who touched
With folk wisdom and folk medicine.

Phials of oil are passed out of the church, through the streets, among the homes.
Priest to mother, monk to elder.

Take this medicine, seal yourselves, anoint the flesh of those you love.
Smear it with salt and the demon will flee.
Pray for healing.

We gather them in the autumn harvest,
Crush them under the stone wheel, carry the fatty liquid into the sunken vat
For the laying on of hands to continue.
I seal you, blessed body,
In the shape of a chi, circle, wing.
Because you have traveled with us, so long,
Dear friend of the holy spirit,
Because you are fruit of the earth and work of human hands,
Because you carry our stories of power and longing,
We consecrate you as you consecrate us.

A Poem of Anointment (By Intern Adella Barrett)