Miles and miles flowed through me as I drove for two hours to the children’s clinic alone with my thoughts. Those who might have come with me were busy elsewhere. Although I am comfortable with the solitude of a long drive, for the first time I felt like turning back. Ten years of driving in this magnificent desert landscape cradled within several mountain ranges, and I wasn’t sure I could reach my destination. Even when I arrived in the border town of Nogales with only another five miles or so to go, I felt like turning back. Yet it also felt like I was at a fulcrum point in my life, balancing on the edge of progress or dissolution. Progress of course, you can advise the other, but the pull of disintegration is very strong when it is you that is within its grip. What could I offer if I did arrive? Would I be in the flow of healing energy? How could I turn back when there were those who had traveled further than I in expectation of my being there for them? And, so I did continue, shedding the pull of depression and greeting the volunteers who guided me into a place to park.
A white gazebo was set up for my Reiki therapy department in the prayer garden of the church where we hold the monthly clinic for children who cross the border from Mexico to receive medical attention. As I stepped out of my car, releasing the doubts of the journey, I could see my first client waiting in her wheelchair with her father and sister by her side. While I was pulling my massage table from the trunk of the car, one of the parking attendants hurried up to me and offered to help carry it to the gazebo, a distance of about a city block. The first of several first events that followed. I’ll describe for you one of the most significant.
For the past decade, I have been working with girls who suffer from Rett’s Syndrome. Considered by some medical specialists to be an autism disorder, symptoms can also include degenerative osteo problems such as scoliosis, grinding of teeth, and inability to walk or talk. A characteristic of this genetic disability, is a tendency to clasp the hands in repetitive motions. I used to think that it was the goal of therapy to calm the hand motions, especially since one of my clients hits the sides of her face repeatedly, the skin of her hands pulled into little mountains of callouses as she bangs her face back and forth, back and forth with her clenched fists. Then one of the mothers told me that this “hand jiving” is a form of communication, and so we no longer tried to stop her, although we would occasionally place our hands in front of her face when the hitting became intense. Yesterday, for the first time in our ten years of Reiki therapy, this now young woman clasped her hands together and then pressed my hand against her heart as she lay with her hands on her chest never moving them to her face. We stayed that way for quite some time while I told her in Spanish that she was the reason I was there and that she was safe with me. Her eyes were full of sadness, and perhaps she had picked up on the sadness that had trailed me down the road. And then again, perhaps it was her emotional state that was influencing me as I drove to meet her, becoming stronger as I drew near, for it does seem as if she too is experiencing a fulcrum point in her life. To be or not to be, that is the question my client has been considering as she looks at me with wide-eyed sorrow.
Sometimes it takes those of us who are empathic a while to realize that the emotion which felt so strong that it almost makes us turn our car around and go back to the day’s starting point, isn’t our emotion. My clinic day was filled with the vibrancy of working with several children, having the welcome surprise of a guest Reiki therapist who was visiting for the first time, and teaching a mother the significance of giving therapeutic energy to different areas of the body so that she could help her child at home. Many firsts in the above interactions. But, it wasn’t until today, when I wrote about the first of having my hand held to a young woman’s heart while looked at sorrowfully that I realized my drive on the edge of despair belonged to my client, not me. The swell of an emotion’s wave reaches far inland to a receptive heart.