By Darvell Hunt
Two weeks ago, I was 40 years old. Next year I’ll be 43. My, how time flies.
For my birthday last month, my mother-in-law gave me a sterling silver flask with an Angel Moroni engraved on one side. The tiny flask looks like it may have been made from two silver spoons placed together, with the handles removed, and a screw-top lid added on top. The small container is meant to hold consecrated oil for the blessing of the sick. It’s a nice piece of artwork and I plan to carry it with me. This consecrated oil container was made by Navajo silversmiths on the Navajo Indian Reservation in Northern Arizona, where my wife’s parents just returned from a full-time mission. I filled it with olive oil at my first opportunity.
My wife also recently bought a spray can of “Extra Virgin Olive Oil” used for cooking. It’s like the popular PAM and contains olive oil—just like my new sterling silver blessing flask.
So I now have two olive oil containers with very different packaging systems and vastly different means of delivering the oil. The containers are different and the methods of delivery are different, but the oil is essentially the same.
I was wondering that if I could somehow consecrate the oil in the spray can, could I spray the top of a sick person’s head and bless them? Now hold on, I’m not trying to be sacrilegious or anything. Normally, when consecrating oil, you hold the open container of oil and consecrate the contents (not the container!) for the blessing of the sick. Now that would certainly be harder to do with a pressurized can of olive oil, so I probably won’t be doing that anytime soon. I also don’t think anybody would appreciate me spraying the whole top of their head with olive oil, when a small drop on the crown would suffice.
But my point is this: the spray can could—if the oil were appropriately consecrated—be a valid method of delivery for the oil to consecrate the sick person’s head for blessing.
Now, I’m not telling you this just to be silly. Keep with me for a few more seconds. This idea of differing methods does apply to writing, if you can follow my line of reasoning.
Some have said that J. K. Rowling and Stephanie Meyer can’t write, yet their stories are best sellers and have hit the reading marketplace by storm. Why is that? And why do people, primarily other writers, say that people like Rowling and Meyer can’t write, when these writers are obviously are doing something right with their stories?
I believe it all comes down to the method of delivery. While the methods of these writers might be unorthodox and not what people are used to seeing, the content is dead on and that's what people care about. We all love these stories because of the stories, not because of the words used to tell those stories. The methods of delivery can vary greatly, but what most readers are truly interested in are the stories.
Becoming a good writer—even a good LDS writer—is all about learning how to write great stories and yet not allowing your words get in the way of telling those stories to the reader. Basically, it comes down to a matter of packaging.
The story is the oil and the words are the container. The oil is the same in both of my examples above, but it is simply packaged differently. What we care about is the delivery of the oil, not how it is done.
Now all I'm left with is trying to figure how to consecrate olive oil in a pressurized spray can...