John Michael

Life Is a Sweet, Tender Bruise LXII: The Anointing

(Photo by David Boca on Unsplash)

John Michael’s latest Life Is a Sweet, Tender Bruise, reflecting on life and people encountered, ponders recent encounters with women and his place in the community. 


This is the prelude. While I was in Portland, I met with a woman I had gotten to know through social media. She is a typical Portland girl in that she is eccentric, independent, and artsy. She was a little nervous on first meeting me, gave me a big hug, and danced me around a little to some music that was playing in Pioneer Square.

Within 30 seconds of meeting, she said we wouldn’t be having sex. I laughed and thought, You’re taking something off the table that I didn’t even know was on the table in the first place.

We had a great seafood lunch at a fancy downtown place and went to the Portland Art Museum which has a world-class modern art collection, including works by Renoir, Van Gogh, Munch, and my favorite, Monet. I noticed she would lean in close at times and swivel her hips in a flirty manner.

At some point, I said, “You are wanting it both ways.”

She laughed, because she knew what I was talking about. She said, “A woman wants to know she is desirable.”

I had known that subconsciously most of my life but hearing her say it out loud brought it home. What do women want? They want to be desired without you necessarily acting on that desire. We had a great day and she had been lonely for some masculine attention, as I was for some feminine, because she had some tears when we hugged goodbye, and I left for the coast.


I’m going through a change of identity; or a change in how I orient myself to the world.


I’m going through a change of identity; or a change in how I orient myself to the world. A while back, I had a vision of myself in my meditation chair moving down beside a river. As I was watching the water roll by, I heard the thought, We are anointing you as a priest. A couple of weeks later, I went for a swim in the Clearwater River. As I was stepping off the beach and into the water, I wasn’t thinking much of anything other than, This water is as cold as I ever remember it being. But soon I started hearing over and over again, “The anointing. The anointing. The anointing.”

I’ve been a very spiritual person most of my adult life and this universe is a deep mystery. Me coming up out of the cold, cold water felt like I was being baptized. I don’t know if this is going to be a full-time occupation or just one of the many things that make up who I am, like writer, painter, libertarian, environmentalist, etc.

A buddy of mine asked me to work at a food booth at the Nez Perce County Fair this weekend. I had maybe an idea it was going to be busy, but it was crazy. One long 12-hour shift, with me and everyone else grabbing short breaks only whenever we absolutely needed one. I liked the owner of the truck, and he was smart enough to sell strictly fair food: Elephant Ears, corn dogs, and curly fries. He had been doing it forever and was low-key and humorous despite the chaos of having a twenty- to thirty-minute line for the food all day and all night.


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I was a little nervous at first because he had a couple of young women working for him in typical modern dress; meaning, cleavage and a lot of bare legs which can be distracting as hell if you are working two to three feet apart.

One of the things the owner was not was empathetic, and the other thing he was not was organized. Both of the women had quit by the end of the night. I was sitting behind the truck having a cigarette and trying to relax my back after being bent over the deep fryer for a couple of hours. I hear a couple of women getting into an argument.

Pretty soon, one of the young ladies came around the corner calling the other woman, the owner’s wife, a “bitch.” I reached out for her hand, which surprised her a little. But she held on as I let her dispel some of the heat she was feeling. She was tough as nails and wasn’t going to cry even though she certainly wanted to. But she looked more relaxed as she wandered off for home.

Now, when I was younger, and maybe even fairly recently, me being kind to women in distress contained some manipulation in it. In that, I would be hoping they would be wanting to repay me with some affection. But it honestly never crossed my mind. I ended up holding a male friend of mine’s hand that night as well. He had some tears remembering a close friend of his who passed away last year. He looked a little awkward for a second but seemed fine with it. I do have a huge impulse to comfort those in emotional discomfort with touch and calm words.

I’ve calmed my own anxiety and wild emotions to where I am pretty calm in any kind of crisis that comes up. Just fulfilling my obligations as a non-denominational, wandering, cigarette-smoking, whiskey-drinking, community priest, I guess.


John Michael

Hello, good people. I am rarely sure how to describe myself. If I say I am a Christian, many things may arise in your mind that ain't necessarily so. I was homeless for seven years and learned more about myself in that stretch of time than in any other segment of my life. I read the Bible a lot out there and came across a passage in Proverbs that has shaped my approach to life: "A man's pursuit is his kindness." I am well educated with a Master of Social Work degree and have worked a wide variety of jobs in my 52 years. None have lasted too long however. When I was homeless, the beauty of Texas wildflowers made me decide to want to live again. Along with kindness, beauty, play, and self-expression are life-guiding ideas. My shadow contains things like feeling sorry for myself, a truckload of defiance, a desperate need to please women, and no small amount of cruelty. A quote from Luke also has had a lasting effect on me: "For God is kind to the ungrateful and the evil." When I read that I thought, "Hell, I have got a fighting chance." I am here to tell you, you have a fighting chance as well. Besides Christianity, practicing Buddhist and Shamanic techniques inform my relationship to God and the world.

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