I have been spending time and money these past two weeks for people to touch me – massage therapist and chiropractor mainly. I somehow managed to hurt the lower part of my back. The general sense is that sitting down for long periods of time, like at a desk and in the car, and my back aren’t very compatible. While I have been in other people’s hands has been lovely to subject myself to their healing power, it has also given me cause to think what I am saying to myself.
My counsellor self is asking me: What is giving me a back ache? Is there something pushing me forward? Maybe someone is a pain in the back? After I reflect on these questions I find another one – is my body readjusting to a new posture and my old body doesn’t like it and is trying to adjust accordingly? Is what I have left behind trying to align me and I need some extra help for the adjustment to be complete? Do I want to put myself in someone else’s hands? So many questions!
Maybe my body doesn’t want to adjust back to travelling in the car or sitting down at work and this is the message it is sending me?
Years ago, a friend of mine, who was living with us at the time, enlisted my help to assist his mother leave his father. His mother had suffered many years of abuse. Once the move was over, a few months later, I was sitting with her having a cuppa and she said to me how a pain she had at the top of her spine and around the base of her skull for a number of years had completely gone. I exclaimed: “Well that was because Mick was a pain in the neck and he isn’t in your life any more.” She laughed and was delighted with the explanation. I have been thinking about that moment, and what it can teach me now. This pain in my lower back, where I can hear several vertebrae crunch against each other, where my core muscles aren’t strong enough at the moment to hold them in place well enough, where my daily stretches test the limits of some muscles and verge on self-harm. Just like making an adjustment to a financial ledger, so my spine is reminding me I have dues to pay as a result of carrying myself in a certain way that has lead me to be turning up to receive treatment from those with the healing hands.
Adjusting to an additional piece of information may even cause you to look at everything in a completely new way. Whether it is discovering that Pluto is no longer a planet, or your favourite Dr Who isn’t the sexual orientation you thought, or your bank is no longer providing the service you need (all revelations to people around me this week) – adjustments occur. The healing hands of the therapist brings news to the bones, muscles and sinews as their turn, just as the injured body has brought news to its host.
This week Hildegard I read some beautiful words from two of your fellow Benedictines. Separated by centuries your common love of community, bees and honey dripped off the page, bringing an adjustment to my life.
The first adjustment was via facebook where my friend Dan had caught up with Br David in Edinburgh at Global TED. Br David graced us with his company and we shared bee hives in Kangaroo Island and he opened a glorious retreat day by inviting us all to hum. The retreatants formed a swarm and the room resonated with the gentle industry of sound to bring us all to stillness.
The second came via Glenstal Abbey. In the words of the Abbott, Mark Patrick Henderman:
Monasteries should act as beehives of the invisible making honey which can be tasted, out of otherwise unavailable nectar hidden in flowers designed to conceal it. Monasteries are breweries distilling wisdom from many sources, searching out new perspectives: ways of hearing, seeing, touching invisible life at every level.”
(Underground Cathedrals, 2010, Columba Press, p.192).
You could have written these same words Hildegard. I am so pleased that I also have a recording of some of your songs sung in Glenstal Abbey and I will listen out to the sweet voices oozing out of the speakers next time I play Vox de Nube. This is my kind of adjustment!