Oil of gladness

The Elders’ Quorum president held up the quart-sized bottle for everyone to see. “For anointings we use olive oil—preferably extra virgin,” he explained. The women nodded and gave little clucks of approval. Anyone who watches cooking shows knows that extra virgin, product of the first pressing of the olives, is the best.

The liquid in the bottle shone a rich yellow. Pretty, but not as impressive as the olive oil my grandmother poured freely in the days of my childhood. Imported from Greece, the thick green oil came in square, gallon-sized cans marked with strange images: words in geometric Greek, creepy symbols like an unflinching eyeball with three legs bending out of its sides. The filigreed designs in red and gold reminded me of the stained-glass windows in the Greek Orthodox church, where I fidgeted every Easter, nose wrinkling from incense, under the eye of the emaciated Christ hanging above the nave.

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