I think it was 6 or so years ago, I was in a session with a therapist who practiced cranial – sacral therapy.
Which, in short, attends to the alignment of the body between the cranium (my noggin) and the sacrum (which is pretty much my tailbone). It’s a series of long tensions and pulls rather than muscle squeezing and all that.
About 15 min into the session, she asked me, “It feels like you have some injuries on your left side.”
She paused and then pulled me over onto my back and said, “tell me.”
I’d never been asked before to recount my history of injuries. Regardless, I could recall all of them.
multiple sprained ankles (6-7)
hairline fracture of my tibia
some other mind of knee blowout
3 broken ribs (2 occasions)
Broken collarbone (2x)
Broken wrist (2x)
Hairline skull fracture (2x)
All of it on the left side of my body.
“That’s a lot of trauma.”
My brain immediately reacted with something like, “What?! I don’t have ‘trauma.’ I just got hurt a few times.”
She took my wrists and folded my arms across my chest. Then, pressing down hard into my shoulders, “Let’s see what we can do. Close your eyes and take a deep breath.”
After 30 more min, I stood up and felt … new?
It was really, really strange.
I had to readjust to what felt like…
But it was quite literally unlike any strength I’d felt in myself previously.
I’d been used to the kind of strength normally prescribed by calls and challenges to “stay strong” or “be strong.”
The kind of strength that’s was, in and of itself, an effort to maintain.
This strength was just … there, holding my body together at my center.
Literally, the only thing that had changed (the only thing that had happened) was that someone had felt the trauma(s) in me, kindly helped me acknowledge them as real, and then actively engaged with the places in me where I was still carrying, by injury, those pieces of my history.
I think this is what is often meant by “entering into” someone’s pain.
And the fruit of that work, that entering in was strength.
Lent begins today. It is a season characterized by the practice of fasting; the choice to deny myself of some joy or pleasure (or even some need); in short, a season marked by the decision to suffer. And, along with the opportunity to practice that personal disciplines in order to clarify my own life and connection with The Divine, Lent is also an invitation to reach out to (or reach into) a world actually bound together by the shared experience of pain and say something along the lines of
“that’s a lot of trauma.”
And then, if we are welcomed, enter in.
And not to simply “fix” what’s wrong in one another (though that is a shared dream, too) but enter in because there is a kind of magic in the meeting of tired and wounded human lives;
A hope for healing and resurrection and actually new life.
And I don’t know exactly how it works.
I just know it does
That friendships are deeper after adventure, and communities are richer after trial.
That there is a power and a peace available to human hearts and human lives that is accessible only through the doorway of pain and suffering BUT/AND it is a doorway that cannot be passed through alone.
Sometimes it takes therapy.
Sometimes it takes a podcast guest like Jennifer Ko
sometimes it’s friends or family
or a child sponsorship program
or AA meetings
Almost always, it takes someone saying, “I see this in you, and I would like to help carry it. I would consider it an honor.”
And someone else saying, “Yes, please do. I trust you. Come closer.”
And almost always,
what we find between us and in us
is not the diminished effort and energy
of persons carrying more than they should
(because we are carrying someone else’s burdens)
we find a strength we didn’t know before
and would rather not live without.
Links for Justin :