For generations it was always at hand.
Before bathrooms and medicine cabinets were ever built in homes, this little glass jar with a yellow cap and yellow contents, was treasured as the primary medicine of the household. A little dab of this yellow salve (Sayman - 87 percent petroleum jelly and 8.8 percent zinc oxide) dressed every kind of skin malady — cuts, scraps, burns, chapping and inflammations.
During my entire childhood this salve was carefully aligned on a shelf with methylate and Iodine. It was such a relief to see my mother reach for Sayman’s yellow jar and not one of the other two; both of which assured pain, especially iodine. Sayman’s experience was always painless, soothing, comforting and protecting.
Rural injuries before good roads, local hospitals and emergency rooms, saw a heavy dose of Sayman’s on the most dreadful and gapping of wounds. As children of those days, we were marked by the Sayman’s treatment — scarred for life; yet we remain eternally grateful for something that very well protected our lives and fostered healing.
This Sayman’s panacean salve used on any and all skin injuries has come into mind over the years of my religious ministry as I anointed those seeking God’s spiritual and physical healing. For many thousands of years (throughout the Old and New Testaments), God prescribed such to endow and effect his power. Kings were thus enthroned from on high [I Samuel: 24]; strength was divinely conferred for
Special work [Leviticus 10:30] and for the sick or dying anointing, was prescribed [James 5:14] for healing and eternal salvation. This blessed and holy anointing besides symbolizing God’s power and presence has always differed from Sayman’s salve in its physical make-up — no petroleum, only 100 percent olive oil.
Perhaps the most important aspect of spiritual anointing is that of identifying Jesus of Nazareth as the “anointed one” of God; the long anticipated Savior of the world [Acts 10:38]. The name “Christ” indicates the Anointed One.
All of the 21 centuries of Christian churches have seen anointing at special events: baptism, Confirmation, ordination, sickness, death, travel, and any event or time of serious change or challenge.
With such a profound, Divine/Biblical prescription along with endless worship traditions, it was such a thrill for me yesterday to receive an anointing,request from a dying lady.
“They (the twelve apostles) drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.” [Mark 6:12]
Sayman’s Salve has certainly proved itself over many years as a healing remedy; but much more so, God’s healing and help through anointing – The Salve of the Soul.
The Rev. John Burkhart Ph.D, is a retired Episcopal priest and professor of psychology
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