Ever notice how experiences that once seemed gross or unpleasant can turn out to be beautiful? Kissing a boy comes to mind (they used to be cooty carriers) and giving birth.
A few weeks ago my pastor was teaching about Jesus healing the man blind from birth (John chapter 9). Whether his eyes were freaky white orbs--think supernatural horror movie, or shriveled like raisins we don't know for sure. Maybe they looked normal. According to scripture the man didn't ask Jesus for healing. Jesus simply notices his dilemma, approaches and....puts mud in his eyes. To be technical, he spits in some dirt. Think about that for a minute: "Hey, sorry about your blindness. Let me spit in the dirt and put mud on your eyes." Yeah, I know he was the Son of God but even divine spit has an eew factor. I like to dig into the specifics in scripture. Not only that, you can't touch a much more vulnerable place then an eyeball. I have a hard time putting mascara on, much less allowing a stranger to put something yucky there. It amazes me that this man (who can't see Jesus at all remember), stands still for this scenario. He had some kind of trust. I'd probably be swinging at the Lord.
Sitting in church I zoned out a tad and flipped to some of the other miracles Jesus performed. Really, this was a guy who could work a miracle with simply a word--or a thought! Like turning water into wine. On these recent hot days I wish I could do something similar. Turn a glass of tap water into yummy Mikes Hard Lemonade, for instance. Then there's the woman who sees Jesus in a large crowd. She has this major medical issue but doesn't want to make a scene. She thinks, "If only I could just touch his clothes I'll be healed." I so relate to this woman. I hate being put on the spot. If I'm suffering in a public situation forget asking for help. I'll just die in the corner quietly, thank you. Jesus would have put his hands on this woman, anointed her with his joy, his healing, in a moment. But she's shy and her problem is embarrassing. Despite her reticence, her faith makes her well and while Jesus publicly makes known his awareness of her needs, he doesn't touch her. The healing is quiet and clean.
So, why the mud for the blind guy? I really don't know. There was nothing magical about that middle eastern dirt. All I can figure is the physical act of anointing did something for that man. Jesus loves to be a hands on kind of guy. The blind man must have had a heart that yearned for a personal touch.
The act of being anointed suggests special favor. It is an act of love and recognition. In the Bible being anointed was closely linked with holiness. The substance of choice was a fragrant oil but perfume and mud were also used. The specific substance wasn't as important as the act itself. So, what does this have to do with horses (you knew I'd eventually get around to it)? Well, these days I have my own nightly "anointing" ritual with Eli.
It started back in May when I noticed he was rubbing his mane and tail off. Literally. Eli is a beautiful animal. To see his chestnut locks frizzled into oblivion killed me. An Arabian with a mohawk? I don't think so. The source of Eli's skin problem is elusive and complicated. Like all individuals, he isn't perfect. Reactive, sensitive skin seems to be his "thorn in the flesh." I began by augmenting his diet. The first step in Operation Don't-Hate-Me-Because-I'm-Beautiful mane hair fit for a Revlon commercial. The flax seed helps with growth, condition, and essential omega 3s. I added garlic to keep the bugs away. They find Eli's smell particularly sweet and drive him crazy. Both dietary things helped but Eli kept itching. A close up inspection of the crest of his neck and tail head revealed skin that was rough, irritated, and excessively dry and flaky--Something Yucky (the technical term). I tried a couple different products before finding my miracle (drum roll please).....Shapley's MTG.http://www.shapleys.com/ Oh my gosh, this product actually works. Owners of sensitive skinned horses rejoice. The active ingredient? Sulfur. Yep, sulfur in oil. It's messy, its smelly, but it stops itching.
At night, usually while Eli is eating, I schlep out my oily sulfur and another great oil, Calm Coathttp://www.calmcoat.com/, for his daily anointing ritual. Calm Coat is a much better smelling concoction of eucalyptus, lavender, and tea tree oil. I use it on his belly to soothe any irritation from noseeums--a major problem in this part of the country--or other insect bites.
As I've written before, Eli is a horse intensely careful about his personal space. When I got him he wouldn't eat if I stood next to him. He also got uncomfortable if I entered his stall when he was closed inside. Basically, he was always worried about how his body might be harmed if I got too close. An introvert, Eli doesn't want anybody making a scene. It's taken several months to get him to the point where he enjoys my attention up close. I can now stand by his side, arm over his barrel, and he doesn't flinch. He even gives me horse hugs now and then when I rub his neck and chest--his big arched neck turned my way as he simply hangs his head by my side.
When I first started my oiling up routine though he was less then thrilled. I'd have to halter him so he didn't walk away--Oh boy, here she comes again with that smelly goo. I had to tell him, "You know, not every stallion has a woman anointing them with oil every night for their personal comfort and beauty. You should be so lucky!" He wasn't impressed. But over the last couple of months I dare to say that he often seems to enjoy it. I no longer have to halter him. One night he even stopped eating altogether and simply hung his head in pleasure. As I stood by his neck, my hands rubbing MTG into the roots of his mane, he gave me a nice horsey hug. I began rubbing the soft place between his jaw bones. My fingers found a couple bumpy mosquito bites. As I rubbed Eli bobbed his head, happy as could be I was itching this most vulnerable place he was unable to do anything about. I put a dab of Calm Coat on my sooty looking fingers and rubbed the soothing oil on the bites. He bobbed even more enthusiastically--yeah, put some there! Interesting that it is a problem that gives me the opportunity to bond with this horse in a way he needs. He's learning to trust even if he doesn't understand what I'm doing to him, even if I'm touching a sensitive place.
I'd like to be more that way--"Lord, please touch me where I need healing; oil, mud, I'll take whatever you've got."