This past Sunday, the first Sunday of Lent, the K – 2nd grade Sunday school children immersed themselves in the story of Jesus blessing the children and his admonishing the disciples (and others) not to distance children from him and spiritual growth. After considerable discussion, I told them that I was going to anoint their heads with oil and bless them. They got to choose between almond oil and grapefruit oil. Most chose grapefruit.
I made the sign of the cross on each head and said something like, “_______________ (each name), you are blessed by God’s love to be a blessing for others”. When the last child had had hands laid on him, I asked Neill to anoint my head with oil and bless me. Immediately, each of the children exclaimed her or his desire to bless me. One by one they stood before me with oil on a finger and made the sign of the cross on my head (without any prompting or instruction by me) and repeated the phrases I spoke.
Think about that for a minute – all those little hearts and fingers blessing me. Describing it as powerful and transformative does not do it justice.
“There’s nothing magical about the oil,” I told the children, “but we need to be reminded of God’s love for us and how we are to love others as often as possible. The oil is a reminder.” One first grader inquired, “Should we put oil on our heads every hour?” “That’s a very good question, I replied. (Which one of you readers could not use a reminder every hour or so?) Closing my eyes and putting my hand on my forehead, I said, “Any time we want we can just hold our forehead, remember the oil, and think God’s love for us and how we are called to love others. I opened my eyes and every child had their eyes closed and a hand on their forehead…. remembering.