Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Hot rocks and icepacks

Sorry about the lack of posts lately.  Sometimes it's all I can do to make it through the day, let alone think, be creative, remember how to type.  And it's been one of those weeks.  I don't know why.  I'm not particularly more stressed than usual, not overwhelmed with work, guests, or whatever other unidentifiable things trigger such episodes of all-over pain and weakness.  It all serves to remind me that I'm not in control of my body, not to mention the rest of the world.

I've been working on a new quilt this week, however, for my just graduated nephew who is on his way to Berkley in the fall.  Maybe it's having sat at my sewing machine for ten straight hours the other day that threw me into this foggy spiral.  I'm just about finished with it, but need to wait for my firing nerves and muscles to relax before I start the most arduous part of the project--the actual quilting.

We had friends here for the 4th, a young man, his wife and almost 2 year old, ringletted son.  I should say adorable son.  He ran up and down our bowling alley of a hallway, cocking his head like a puppy and saying, "Daddy go?", hoping to be chased.  He calls fans "fan-whee!"  for the sound they make, is quite the little mimic, repeating every word anyone says to him, and anunciates the word "company" so precisely it sounds like "Come-pan-knee".  As I say, adorable.
Our dogs, however, didn't know quite what to make of this small human.  Jackson kept trying to do what dogs always do with newcomers: sniff his rear-end.  Fortunately, Jackson's about as mild-mannered as they come, so even his 110 pounds of muscle, fur and flapping tongue didn't worry the little guy.  Jamaica, however, is a total scaredy-cat.  She spent most of the day racing from one kennel to another, trying to make herself very inconspicuous.  I'm not sure what she thought the toddler was, or what he might mischief he might inflict on her, but she wasn't taking any chances.  Clearly, we aren't around babies enough.

The wife has recently become a licensed massage therapist, and it was only my good breeding and tongue biting that kept me from demanding she practice on me--or on all of us.  That and the fact that she hadn't brought her table with her.  But seriously, the floor isn't that hard, is it?  We got to talking about massage though, and when I mentioned the disease I live with she told me that it's a little tricky doing massage on someone like me.  Deep muscle massages actually tend to exaserbate the muscles rather than release them.  That's why hot stone massage is so effective.  The heat does the hard work, therefore the massage can be more gentle and complementary.

Late that night, I got to thinking about the idea that it's the heat that does the hard work, the heavy lifting of pain, so to speak.  It's a little--or maybe a lot--like what God does in us.  It's heat that does the work of relieving our pain.  Heating pads, hot water bottles, hot rocks all work to soften what is tight and hurting within us.  And, my friend told me, ice-cold stones also work.  Cold reduces inflammation, calms down what hurts.  In our spiritual lives, as well as our physical bodies, we need the extremes of temperature, of environments to move us back to where we are supple, flexible and able to move well.  When those tightened spiritual muscles--doubt, shortness of vision, aching prayer muscles--are relaxed, the Holy Spirit can massage back into movement, growth.  He uses heat and cold to pull us out of pain and back into running the race with endurance.

This vision for my physical body and my spiritual health really helps me today, when all my muscles are firing in the wrong way, and even my skin hurts to touch.  An ice pack, a few hot stones, and my body awakens and begins to move more easily. And my spirit as well.  I think I've been lukewarm lately, anemic in my prayer life, and lackadaisical about my devotions.  No wonder my spirit's tightened up.  I need a Holy hot pad to put on my soul, and Heaven-sent ice-bucket dumped over me so that I begin to move--one direction or the other. So that pressure applied on the outside will massage me refined in the fire, so I can become spiritually rich, and wide-eyed with His vision.

"I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot.  I wish you were one or the other!  So, because you are lukewarm--neither hot nor cold--I am about to spit you out of my mouth."

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