Take My Hands…
…and let them move, at the impulse of Thy love. Take my feet and let them be, swift and beautiful for Thee, swift and beautiful for Thee. So goes the second verse of the hymn ‘Take My Life’, number 391 in the Presbyterian hymnal. Lately I find myself singing these words almost daily.
Here at ‘A Studio Incarnate’ we can remember the most basic incarnation – the body. Fashioned in the image of God, we inhale and exhale without any effort on our part. Bones provide our frame and muscles produce movement. I am inspired to write about the new profession I am entering, though my primary call remains the same. After two years in training, I am beginning work as a massage therapist to complement my ongoing explorations in dance.
I teach Liturgical Dance for the Luce Center at Wesley Theological Seminary and love dancing in church as often as I can. So…massage therapy? How could the two possibly be related? I invite you to go on a journey with me as I attempt to articulate the connection for myself and for you, the curious reader.
I have long been fascinated by the inner workings of the human body. More than ten years ago, I found myself drawn to classes in Charlottesville, VA (where I was living at the time) that supported the art form of dance. For ten weeks I delved into a type of movement study called Body-Mind Centering and, later, I was introduced to another subtle discipline called Feldenkrais. At their core, both develop skill in listening to the body itself for wisdom and understanding. I was captivated. During that period of my life I was also starting to claim my call as a bridge between sacred and secular through the medium of dance. I was dancing more and more in churches and brought sacred dance to the stage in a large community dance production at the center of downtown Charlottesville. The year was 2000 and it was ripe with possibility. A year later, I enrolled at Wesley to take this call further.
I have been dancing my whole life. Born breech, naturally, I came into this world led by my feet. Now it seems my hands have something to say, propelling me into a surprising work. Feet and hands: the means by which I offer myself to this world.
My forays into massage therapy also began in the year 2000. I have long managed what can be a debilitating condition and it was during a crisis point, the spring before the dance production, that I received my first massage. It was Lent and life around me was heightened and terrifying. When Kathleen’s healing hands touched me, I received water in the midst of a desert. It did not occur to me then that I would eventually be called to do the same for others. What struck me most about the experience was that it brought me back into communion with myself and others. My spirit was released and flowed freely again.
Years of serving God through Dance passed. I grew as a dancer and a teacher. Through various other shades of movement and dance classes, workshops and practices, my understanding of what the body offers us and holds for us blossomed – is still blossoming.