The Anointing…or The Beautiful Lie
Through the open window Gracie could hear the droning noise of the motor-mower receding and approaching in regular waves, as it cut the grassy area outside. The lawn was taking on a green striped summery look. And inside the unfurnished room where she stood, a group of people were kneeling around her. A voice was droning on in a lisping monotonous tone, slightly higher than the pitch of the mower outside. Outside was reality, ordinary every-dayness and inside a surreal atmosphere closed in on her. Gracie felt faint, and her mind wandered. She wished she wasn’t here, and she opened her eyes to look at the kneeling adults. It was the pastor praying, and his r’s were not coming out right. She heard him say ‘wychous’ and ‘weward’. His glasses were steamed up from emotion, and there were droplets of perspiration at his receding hairline. She could see greying tufts of hair emerging from his ears which made him look rather clownish and she tried hard not to smile. But he must be very holy she thought because her mother and a very pious friend had enlisted his help. She did not know him but yesterday he had asked to see her, and in her mother’s presence, he had put a proposition to her that at age eleven she did not know how to resist.
You only have to do three things she had been told. And if it is in God’s plan, that is just what he will do! “Confess your sins. Believe that God will, and that God can, and you will be healed. A group of good people will pray and ask God for your healing. Then, as the Bible teaches, you will be anointed with oil, and the rest is up to God”. How could Gracie resist such an offer, when there might be a chance to have that skinny leg fixed which all of her life had caused so much trouble. No more pain, no more limping, and no kid would be able to call her ‘hop-along’ ever again.
“Gracie, do you have anything to confess?”Her mind was brought back to the present with a jolt. She could see a bee bumping into the window in a vain attempt to escape, its buzzing escalating with its frantic effort to escape. She wanted to escape too. She wondered if the adults in the room were going to confess any of their secret sins to the gathered group. And she felt resentful. She stammered an incoherent and barely audible reply. Unfair! Now she knew it would not work, and in her secret mind she really doubted that God had the time or inclination to do anything special for her. What about Rangi, the girl with the dusky skin and beautiful face, her blue-black hair as glossy as a raven’s wing waving and bouncing half-way down her back, who always had a ready smile. One leg was five inches shorter than the other. When she walked her short leg stretched out to reach the ground on tip-toe like a ballerina. Her bad hip, rotten away with tuberculosis, would accommodate a basket ball in its stinking eroded fleshy hollow. The TB stench, emanating from her wound as it was dressed daily, was nauseating and smelt of death. And Minnie, she had a hump on her back the size of a sack of potatoes. It was a collapsed spine the relic of a polio epidemic. Then there was Bella who joked and teased all day long, with her spine so badly eaten by TB that she was paralysed from the waist down. She would spend her entire life strapped to a frame. What about gorgeous three year-old Donny with two clubbed feet, his legs ending in stumps that were encased in plaster – not forgetting the twenty other crippled children whose lives Gracie had recently shared in the Crippled Children’s Home? All had equally horrifying physical problems and were much worse than hers! Perhaps the pastor did not know about them. And was it just a beautiful lie?
Gracie felt a moist hand on her head. It was time for the oil. Her ringlets would be spoiled. The discomfort of sleeping the night before with her hair in rags, was wasted. Her hair would have to be washed again.
The bee at the window, silent now had given up its efforts to be free and had stopped its vain self-destructive beating at the glass window. The mower stopped its droning; the room was still and smelt of summer. And Gracie waited….. –
This is another short story written by Mary Gabb. A tale which recounts the thoughts and emotions of severely handicapped eleven year old Gracie, when her believing loved ones turn to Biblical promises of healing in response to the prayer of faith for healing of her disabilities.
Gracie, not yet a teen-ager, faces one of the great issues of life, the hope of divine restoration of health, as opposed to an unaltered and insensitive fate.
One can’t help but be deeply impressed with her disappointed scepticism at the outcome.