Remember the goodness of your body. Remember the truth of who you are in Christ. Speak a blessing over yourself and anoint your body with fragrant oil.
What this looks like for me:
Several years ago, during a long bout of depression, I happened upon a little bottle of frankincense anointing oil that I bought on a whim. Frankincense was one of the gifts the magi brought to welcome Jesus at his birth. Although it was mid-August at the time, I felt drawn to this fragrance given to the infant Christ.
At Christmas we celebrate the Divine Incarnate—God revealing God’s self in flesh and bone, blood and breath. The Incarnation reminds us that God became a body, and that our bodies are very good. 1 Corinthians proclaims our bodies are the very dwelling place of God, the temple of the Holy Spirit. What good news!
During my long season of sorrow, I desperately needed to remember this truth. Each morning I would look at myself in the mirror, and anoint myself with frankincense oil, speaking a blessing over myself as I did:
This is the fragrance of the infant Christ
Who created you in God’s image (anoint forehead)
washed you in his blood (anoint wrists)
indwells you with the Spirit (anoint throat)
With great Love you have been welcomed.
For good measure I would dab a little under my nose so I could smell it throughout the day. When depression washed over me, I would press my wrist to my nose and take a long, deep breath allowing the fragrance to remind me of the goodness and wonder of this body, this life.
Gratefully, I have been free from depression for some time now, but the goodness of this anointing practice is one I still relish. Each Advent season, I pull out my little bottle and add its fragrance and blessing to my morning quiet time. I carry the bottle in my purse, and sometimes occasion will arise to share its blessing with another.
We cannot offer what we have not received. May we open ourselves to the profound blessing of God, that we may extend it forward into our world.
Middle school teacher, foster mama, and creative contemplative, Stephanie Jenkins is a southern California native who currently lives in Los Angeles with her wonderful husband Billy. In addition to relishing time spent outdoors, she also enjoys yoga, art-making, poetry, and journaling.