Laying on of Hands

by G

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. So I did. After my mission. And it was amazing. Memorizing the blessings and rituals 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 even God. 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.

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13 Responses

  1. D'Arcy says:

    G. This is an important post. Very important. It poses questions that I think most of us have asked throughout our attendance in the church. We’ve all heard the stories of women blessing. I remember that scene in Legacy. It always made me laugh because of the way she said it, but it was a deliberate point to put into the film the part where she heals the ox with her faith.

    I’ve been thinking that if faith is a power, and things are healed and helped with faith, and I have great faith to heal and help then why do we even need the priesthood anyway? Can’t all the things done with the priesthood just be done with faith? I guess all the healing aspects, I mean, I think the priesthood power might be more important with the ceremonies of marriages, etc. Not sure.

    I have two beautiful friends, women, who know that they were meant to be healers. They have laid hands on me, done energy work on me, and several other things. I even had one come over and bless my house when I felt weird things going on there. The house felt just as clean and fresh and amazing as any man could bless it. I felt it real and true. These women are both very activein the church, but they are met with strange looks and disapproving shakes of heads.

    But I don’t care, this comment might even sound weird,thoughi f I wrote of a man blessing my house, no one would bat an eye. Honestly, I trust this girl in her preparation, her spiritual in tuneness, and on so many other levels than I do most of the men I know. And it’s getting the same results. She doesn’t do this in the name of priesthood. She does this in the name of faith. And from my understanding of faith, that’s exactly in the realm of what we can do.

  2. D'Arcy says:

    G. This is an important post. Very important. It poses questions that I think most of us have asked throughout our attendance in the church. We’ve all heard the stories of women blessing. I remember that scene in Legacy. It always made me laugh because of the way she said it, but it was a deliberate point to put into the film the part where she heals the ox with her faith.

    I’ve been thinking that if faith is a power, and things are healed and helped with faith, and I have great faith to heal and help then why do we even need the priesthood anyway? Can’t all the things done with the priesthood just be done with faith? I guess all the healing aspects, I mean, I think the priesthood power might be more important with the ceremonies of marriages, etc. Not sure.

    I have two beautiful friends, women, who know that they were meant to be healers. They have laid hands on me, done energy work on me, and several other things. I even had one come over and bless my house when I felt weird things going on there. The house felt just as clean and fresh and amazing as any man could bless it. I felt it real and true. These women are both very activein the church, but they are met with strange looks and disapproving shakes of heads.

    But I don’t care, this comment might even sound weird,thoughi f I wrote of a man blessing my house, no one would bat an eye. Honestly, I trust this girl in her preparation, her spiritual in tuneness, and on so many other levels than I do most of the men I know. And it’s getting the same results. She doesn’t do this in the name of priesthood. She does this in the name of faith. And from my understanding of faith, that’s exactly in the realm of what we can do.

  3. D'Arcy says:

    G. This is an important post. Very important. It poses questions that I think most of us have asked throughout our attendance in the church. We’ve all heard the stories of women blessing. I remember that scene in Legacy. It always made me laugh because of the way she said it, but it was a deliberate point to put into the film the part where she heals the ox with her faith.

    I’ve been thinking that if faith is a power, and things are healed and helped with faith, and I have great faith to heal and help then why do we even need the priesthood anyway? Can’t all the things done with the priesthood just be done with faith? I guess all the healing aspects, I mean, I think the priesthood power might be more important with the ceremonies of marriages, etc. Not sure.

    I have two beautiful friends, women, who know that they were meant to be healers. They have laid hands on me, done energy work on me, and several other things. I even had one come over and bless my house when I felt weird things going on there. The house felt just as clean and fresh and amazing as any man could bless it. I felt it real and true. These women are both very activein the church, but they are met with strange looks and disapproving shakes of heads.

    But I don’t care, this comment might even sound weird,thoughi f I wrote of a man blessing my house, no one would bat an eye. Honestly, I trust this girl in her preparation, her spiritual in tuneness, and on so many other levels than I do most of the men I know. And it’s getting the same results. She doesn’t do this in the name of priesthood. She does this in the name of faith. And from my understanding of faith, that’s exactly in the realm of what we can do.

  4. D'Arcy says:

    G. This is an important post. Very important. It poses questions that I think most of us have asked throughout our attendance in the church. We’ve all heard the stories of women blessing. I remember that scene in Legacy. It always made me laugh because of the way she said it, but it was a deliberate point to put into the film the part where she heals the ox with her faith.

    I’ve been thinking that if faith is a power, and things are healed and helped with faith, and I have great faith to heal and help then why do we even need the priesthood anyway? Can’t all the things done with the priesthood just be done with faith? I guess all the healing aspects, I mean, I think the priesthood power might be more important with the ceremonies of marriages, etc. Not sure.

    I have two beautiful friends, women, who know that they were meant to be healers. They have laid hands on me, done energy work on me, and several other things. I even had one come over and bless my house when I felt weird things going on there. The house felt just as clean and fresh and amazing as any man could bless it. I felt it real and true. These women are both very activein the church, but they are met with strange looks and disapproving shakes of heads.

    But I don’t care, this comment might even sound weird,thoughi f I wrote of a man blessing my house, no one would bat an eye. Honestly, I trust this girl in her preparation, her spiritual in tuneness, and on so many other levels than I do most of the men I know. And it’s getting the same results. She doesn’t do this in the name of priesthood. She does this in the name of faith. And from my understanding of faith, that’s exactly in the realm of what we can do.

  5. Jana says:

    I’ve thought a lot about this G, so I appreciate your musings on this topic. I find that I’m a very tactile person and I love crocheting items for others–knowing that my hands have created something that will then be used by their hands.

    But I don’t know that my hands have the power of healing touch, except maybe as I put them to work on the keyboard. 😉

  6. Alisa says:

    I love this part of the temple, G. For me it was so empowering. I believe in hands-on healing and blessing from anyone. Touch can heal with the authority that comes at the moment when we are spiritually in tune.

  7. Caroline says:

    I held my baby during our (at home) baby blessing. I also wrote the majority of the blessing that my husband read during that blessing. I felt really good about being involved. In an ideal world, I would have been involved even more – by actually vocalizing a blessing – but as it was I thought it was a good compromise, considering some very orthodox family members were present.

    Thanks for your reflections on this, G. I’ve never done initiatories other than that first time I went through. I liked the fact that women were administering, but I was distressed by having my ears blessed to hearken unto my husband. So I’ve never been back. But maybe sometime I’ll try it again.

  8. kmillecam says:

    This is something that I have thought about a lot lately. I just had a baby 5 months ago and he was born with cleft lip and palate. I have felt so strongly that I have a special bond with him as I have watched him struggle and then thrive. It started when I had my ultrasound and they found the cleft and a kidney problem. I was sick with worry as he was tested for various genetic disorders. I spent a lot of time doing yoga and meditating on my connection with him. It was then that I could see myself laying my hands on him to bless him when he was born.

    After he was born I did. I blessed him as his mother and his advocate through his surgeries and difficulties. I blessed him as my child in need of protection and strength. I felt the power of god around us as I spoke hesitatingly but with conviction.

    It will be difficult to implement giving a blessing to my 3-year-old, however. I know that he will ask why and wonder why I never have before. But I feel like I am reclaiming an intimate part of my relationship with my children by starting now.

  9. suzann says:

    I also enjoy the parts in the Temple Ceremony where women act with authority to wash, bless, and anoint, but it does trouble me that the promises and blessings connect women to husbands, where the promises and blessings for men are unto God.

    The unequal positioning of men and women in the Temple is particularly troubling for me because I believe Jesus Christ when he said that we are all alike unto God…… (neither male or female, but all one in Jesus Christ). I also believe him where he says there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, and that is Christ Jesus.

    Also, I believe we all are blessed with powerful God energy that we can use to bless others. Just before my husband had eye surgery, I sat on our bed and had Dean kneel on the floor so he could place his head in my lap. As I cradled his wonderful head, and with my tears dropping on him, I blessed him and his eyes for healing.

    I enjoy formal priesthood blessings, but I think it is also important for women to realize their own power to bless and heal.

  10. suzann says:

    KM, Your little boys are fortunate to have you spiritually involved in their lives. I love hearing how you spiritually prepared for Eli.

  11. mb says:

    I have had many experiences where I have been moved to perform a “spiritual act” as you call it, but because my gifts are different, they haven’t been in the sorts of form you describe.

    Along the lines of what Suzann has written, I’ve run into a number of married women who listen to temple words and think they are being told to connect to their husband in order to hear God’s will. And I’ve run into a number of women who listen to those same words and think they are being told to listen to their husband if and only if what he’s saying jives with what she herself is hearing from God. I’ve run into women who have listened to another set of temple blessings and thought they were told they are to do their work under the direction of their husbands. And then there are other women who listen to those same words and think they are being told that their work is to be done completely as a respected equal with their husband.

    So, my take on it is this: the language is imperfect and it also changes meaning depending on the inflection of the voice of the one speaking the words. If what you think it means doesn’t jive with the words of Christ then assume that the meaning that you have initially ascribed to it is wrong, chuck that interpretation and seek the one that makes more sense with what you know about God. He’ll open that to you.

    It’s easy to assume that your first take on it is the expected one. Often it isn’t. But we tend to get stuck on it anyway.

    Someday the language will be better, but in the meantime, follow what the Spirit teaches you is true about it and feel no obligation to ascribe to what is not true.

  1. December 30, 2009

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  2. March 23, 2010

    […] That is probably my most pronounced experience I have had (other than also loving the initiatory and temple as described by G). […]

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