Driving into the historic center of town, I pull up to the curb. Stepping from my car, I pass metal hitching rings on the sidewalk, provided for tying horses long ago. The tall 1900s brick building, several stories tall, reminds me of a benevolent great-uncle, wizened, commanding respect. Intimidating.
Turning the ornate doorknob, I go in.
That’s where old and stately end. Gathering back a corner of the muslin drapes to enter the massage therapy room, I find I’ve slipped into another world. Refreshing, clean, quiet— a sanctuary, of sorts. Bare tree branches grace one brick wall, live flowers in glass tubes nestling among them. A black wooden rocker rests in a corner, inviting me to sip the cup of steaming tea and nibble the truffle waiting on the antique end table. I hardly notice the therapy table and rolling chair in the middle of the space.
Minutes later, ready for treatment, I lie on the heated surface, a crisp sheet covering me.
“Where are you hurting?” My massage therapist and daughter, Christina asks as she leans over me, her voice soft.
I twist my arm around to point out the problem area. Too impatient to wait for my husband’s help, I’d strained my back moving heavy lumber during a bathroom renovation. Bad decision.
“How’s that feel?” Christina’s skilled touch kneads at the spasm, minimizing the pain.
“Mmm. So much better.” Everything inside me calms. My breathing slows. My thoughts wander.
Smooth gray river stones, warmed to perfection, gently glide along my spine, expert hands guiding them. As soft music plays in the background, mint and eucalyptus scent the air, my skin drinking in the fragrant oil. Minute by minute, muscle by muscle, strong warm fingers are rubbing and prodding, pulling the tension from my tired, stressed body.
Finishing up my back, she goes on to other areas, massaging my arms and legs. Even my scalp and hands are stretched and caressed.
Simultaneously, she embarks on her secret agenda, the healing of a weakened soul.
“You have such good skin.” Her kind words encourage me as she rubs along surgical scars and cellulite. “You have nice feet …” Trained hands wrap them in a steamy towel, softening every callous. One compliment follows another.
For a moment, I forget I’m middle-aged and flabby. The words are a balm to my spirit, reminding me I am loved, special. The kindness overtakes my defenses, and I am grateful my face is hidden. Cradled in the opening provided for it, tears slip silently from my lash-tips to the wooden floor below.
I think back on Christina’s childhood, the day a heavy piece of furniture crushed her right hand, mangling her thumb and removing one of her fingertips. She healed quickly, but with the pain came a changed child. The injury became anointing of sorts, the damage itself a permanent reminder. I watched as her focus turned toward using her hands—her unique, gifted hands, to help others.
Turning to lie on my back, a framed calligraphy on the wall catches my attention. Beautifully penned in bright colors, written by Paul over two thousand years ago, it posts a statement both simple and bold: Neglect not the gift that is in you.
What gift have I got to give? Ideas begin to sprout in my mind.
My pampering time comes to an end. Relaxed, I leave the spa walking taller, my movements more flexible, my heart stronger. I’ve been healed in places I didn’t know to be broken, taught wisdoms without pretense.
So many times the best advice we receive isn’t spoken aloud. Today, this is what I’ve gained:
1) We learn just as many lessons from our children as we teach them.
2) Don’t try to carry a heavy load alone. Get help.
3) Remind someone you know of their uniqueness and lovability. How quickly we all forget.
4) Sometimes we don’t even know we’re broken until after we’ve been fixed.
5) When you find yourself damaged by circumstances, embrace the weakness. Use it to create something new, beautiful, and strong.
6) Love yourself just as you are. If your piece doesn’t fit the puzzle, find one where it does. Or build a new puzzle.
7) When words don’t come, a touch can be enough.
8) Believe in someone. You need it as much they do.
9) Live these moments—they’ll be over before you know it.
And the most important—Neglect not the gift that is in you.
It’s a gift. Open it.