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Image description: Two green eyes, eyebrows and a circle in the middle of the forehead with and arrow point to it with the words ‘LOL – God’

 I always politely refused.

There were two reasons that I said, “No,” when I was offered anointing and a prayer for healing at church. This is a regular part of the service and most people come forward and during this time the church is really silent as if everyone senses the sacredness of what was happening. But as I said, I always refused because I had two concerns.

I was convinced that everyone would assume that when I received the anointing and the prayers began, my prayers would be to ‘rise up and walk.’ I was completely sure that my disability would make the subject of my prayers an easy assumption. The assumption would be wrong, but I knew it would be made. I didn’t want people to first assume and then go around with pity in their hearts because the prayer (I didn’t make) as so clearly answered.

The second reason was because of a kind of low level latent anger about the whole healing thing. My occasional contacts with strangers who have wanted, sometimes quite aggressively, to lay hands on me to pray for me, have left me a little angry at the prejudice buried in their, what they think, generous offer. Further, to be told, often, and again by ‘loving’ strangers, that my disability is a result of sinfulness and my repentance is the key to my healing. Yikes, I need little of that in my life.

But, the other day at church, I had something that I felt did need healing. The kind of thing that I think many pray for – healing from hurt, or from anger, or from disappointment, or for lack of resolve, or for grief and sorrow. I surprised them by saying ‘yes’ when offered. We wheelchair folk have the choice of going up or remaining in our places and having the deacons come to us. Most often, we all choose just to stay in place.

The deacon approached me and put the anointing ‘salve’ on my forehead and said a prayer and I prayed, deeply, for the issue that was of concern to me. I found the whole thing a wonderful and deeply meaningful ritual and, unsurprisingly, I felt better afterwards. I looked around and realized that the world wasn’t focused on me, no one seemed to notice and therefore no one was able to assume anything. Note to self: it’s not always about you.

Then a few days later, I noticed something when washing my face. It wasn’t much, but my forehead felt a little bit different. By the end of the week, it was plain, there was a small dry and irritated area right in the centre of my forehead. Luckily it was invisible to the eye, or people would really wonder what happened to me. I struggled to figure it out.

And then I did.

I’m allergic to the healing salve, or the anointing oil, or whatever it is they use.

I’m touching the spot now and while its nearly gone now, it’s still there, reminding me, and I’m not sure you’ll see it the same way … that God has a helluva sense of humour.