This is a long journey. It is slow. It is the journey of healing. Of learning to heal. Of noticing a wound, learning what caused the wound, learning to care for the wound.
Six years ago, I found that my heart had been battered to pieces: great gapping, raw holes sat where the church used to be. I quit the church, taking shelter in my parents’ guest room. I studied theology, trying to figure out where I had gone wrong.
Four years ago, I wrote a poem:
I do not know your name but you hurt
me. your dull ache a seismograph scale
plate tectonics reverberate my
ocean body. Richter measures hair
line, or pinpoints quarter of kidney.
I drop a soothing stone sending you
ripples, your echoes hash discontent.
My hurt was in my hip, and through reading Yoga Journal, I discovered that my hurt had a name: The SI joint: sacroiliac joint: the place where the hip and spine come together. Yoga, maybe, had dislodged it. I eased up on my yoga practice, learning that my “edge,” as Erich Schiffmann says, was not as edgy as I had thought.
Studying Greek, I learned that theology is based on the interpretation of words. I moved to Pittsburgh and stumbled across a church I could attend without being angry. I could listen to God at this church. The pastor was open to interpretations of words.
to speak anatomically say
the PSIS hides SI joint:
(the posterior superior
iliac spine; sacroiliac)
to speak metaphorically say
this knob is a peak is a mountain
is the dark night of the snake’s soul hip
Slowly, the SI pain eased, but my yoga practice could not deepen. Now there was a burning in my low back. Another yoga teacher said, “There is something toxic in your low back.”
Almost a year ago now, I went to a chiropractor who found that my L5 vertebrae was jammed to the left, causing my discomfort. My left hip compensated for the pain by pulling up, shortening my left leg—hence my plateau in yoga poses. We’ve been working on retraining my hip muscles to behave differently.
My L5 might have been jammed for 10 years. Maybe 20. My muscles have behavioral patterns, and with stress and neglect, they slide back into place. I return to the chiropractor; I keep working on my exercises. It’s not an instant fix.
Still sometimes after a sermon, I go home irate. I feel guilty about something that was said in the sermon. A place where I am not good enough. I am listening with old patterns.
Confused, I explain what I heard to my husband, who listened to the same sermon. “I did not hear that,” he says. “The pastor did not say that. This is what I heard.” Slowly, we are retraining my spiritual muscles to find their new form.
Looking at a poem from four years ago (four years? It feels like last month!), I can see that I have, indeed, learned more about my body, about yoga poses, about anatomy, about movement, and about patience.
I don’t see what I learn every day. I see it when I look back and realize how far I’ve come. Each step requires noticing, recognition, repentance, and grace.
I am not the bulkhead the masthead
the figurehead of the ship. I am
the stern the dimple behind fusion
of hull and mast stable and senses
hip and spine pelvis and sacrum. you
cannot perceive me unless I slip