Thursday, May 14, 2009

laying on of hands

(posted at the exponent.)
The first time that I went through the temple, I knew that I would come back and become a worker there. I knew this the moment that a woman parted a white veil to usher me into a room and laid her hands upon my head.

Backing up a few years, I was one of those beehives who was fairly ticked off at the system that promoted boys to the priesthood and me to lessons on getting married in the temple. There was all this hype about having the power to act in God's name, lots of talk about "privilege" and "power" and "being God's agent" etc... and my 12 year old heart really wished I could be more a part of it then just getting one of those chosen ones to marry me when I came of age.

So when I went to the temple and experienced this space where women laid their hands upon other women to bless them, where they ceremoniously washed and anointed and blessed... I knew I would have to do that too. And so I did, after my mission. And it was amazing. Memorizing the blessings came easy for me and I had some very powerful experiences with the patrons and the other women I worked with. I loved using my hands to do this spiritual work.

Then life got busy and I got married and eventually had to let my time as a temple worker go, but the real question this raised for me was "Why?" "Why can't women perform this work outside of the temple?" Especially when I found that early in the church women were instructed in the blessing and healing of others, I felt it as a painful slight.

So years have past and my view of the church as the exclusive receptacle of the true priesthood power has changed. As have my views on faith healings, miracles and God too. What hasn't changed is that desire to use my hands for spiritual work. I've lost my connection to the memorized blessings and the carefully laid out instructions, even to the notion of channeling some higher power through this act... but I do still have this sense of there being powerful value in these actions we make; human touch, hope, love... I really don't know even exactly how to explain it. I liked the post fmhLisa wrote a while back about blessing sick children because that is a lot like what I feel and experience. With intention I lay my hands on my child when he is sick or hurt or troubled. And I hope it helps.

Do you have experiences where you have felt moved to perform some sort of spiritual act? (I use that term loosely, and for lack of a better one.) If you wouldn't mind sharing, I'd love to hear others thoughts and experiences with this.


Lessie said...

Very cool post, G. I haven't had any personal experiences with this, but some of the women I met in one of my discussion groups are trained Reiki healers and believe very firmly in their ability to heal by channeling energy/intention through their hands. I thought it was especially interesting that they were ex-mo women. Perhaps they were reclaiming a gift that was theirs but that they weren't allowed to use while still in the church? I'd love to talk to them more at length about their experiences.

angryyoungwoman said...

I met a woman (a member, actually) who healed through essential oils/aromatherapy. She applied oils to my head and massaged my head and sort of gave me a blessing that was much like a patriarchal blessing. Then she told me I was gifted in writing like Eliza Snow and that my sister (who was the one who'd arranged the meeting was like Emma Smith.

That's my experience with it, but I've never been the healer.

Erstwild said...

This is an interesting subject. When the D&C scriptures talk about spiritual gifts, the ability to heal is one gift mentioned. So, what if it's a woman that has the gift to heal? Does that mean they need to become an RN to practice that?

But, some things common in the 19th Century Church are now no longer done, like Rebaptism.

-Mike H.