“Solvitur Ambulando” – It is solved by walking, 2016 Labyrinth Walks (Walk 6/40), Ash Wednesday Avondale Presbyterian Church – Charlotte:
a cold walk, but a good one. Typical weather in the South: 32 and raining …
Here’s my image of Ash Wednesday: If our lives were a long piece of fabric with our baptism on one end and our funeral on another, and we don’t know the distance between the two, then Ash Wednesday is a time when that fabric is pinched in the middle and the ends are held up so that our baptism in the past and our funeral in the future meet. The water and words from our baptism plus the earth and words from our funerals have come from the past and future to meet us in the present. And in that meeting we are reminded of the promises of God: That we are God’s, that there is no sin, no darkness, and yes, no grave that God will not come to find us in and love us back to life. That where two or more are gathered, Christ is with us. These promises outlast our earthly bodies and the limits of time.
Gua Sha: I did this today! I’ll let you know how it goes
Baker started with what was, without a doubt, the best massage of my life. I consider myself to have a fairly high pain tolerance, so I prefer a very deep massage, and this did not disappoint. I could actually feel her working the knots out of my back with her hands. But that was just the beginning. She retreated for a moment, returning with a tool that she began scraping up and down my back. Since I was face-down on the massage table, I couldn’t see anything, but I pictured her rubbing a small, hand-held dish up and down my back. “Gua means to scrape or scratch,” she explained, moving the instrument down and away from my spine. “Sha means sand, because the sha rash that comes up is like a sand-like texture right on the skin.” Again, she warned me, “This will look dramatic.” The sensation was unlike anything I ever experienced before. I wouldn’t call it painful, but it was definitely intense, and I don’t think it’s a treatment that everyone will enjoy. She dug the tool into the muscles of my back, moving it around my shoulder blades and along my spine, applying pressure until the knots that built up over the past months dissolved. I felt better instantly. As she finished the treatment, I asked to see this “magical” tool that offered so much relief. Baker showed me a bottle cap, slightly larger than the one you’d twist off a bottle of Snapple. I was amazed.
With a final warning as to the visual state of my back, Baker left the room so I could survey the damage and get dressed. I approached the mirror with trepidation and noticed spots of purple and red blooming along the tops of my shoulders. I turned around and for the full effect: bruise-like paths spread down and way from my spine and along the bones of my shoulder blades. Frankly, I looked like I’d been beaten, even though I felt amazing. I felt capable of running a marathon (realistically, jogging around the block a few times), but Baker advised against that: “Your body needs to recover,” she reminded me. “It needs to have time to stabilize and recover, because [gua sha] is a treatment.”
This ancient therapy touted by Gwyneth Paltrow feels a lot better than it looks.