The power of touch
Sam showed me how the wordless power of touch can heal
As Wendy and I walked from the parking garage toward the Oregon Convention Center in Portland, I could see her struggle with finding a comfortable way to carry her day pack. “Are you OK, Hon?” I asked.
“Not really,” she said with a grimace, “My neck is killing me.”
We were in Portland for the Unitarian Universalist General Assembly. I had driven my Subaru Forester and 13-foot Scamp trailer from Richmond across the country to Portland. Wendy, who was wrapping up the school year, had flown to meet me so we could spend five days with our spiritual community and then a couple of weeks wandering. We planned to drive down the Oregon coast, see the Redwoods in California, swing back through Oregon to visit Sam and Nan at their house in Medford, spend time with friends in Bainbridge, Washington, explore Glacier National Park in Montana, visit our friend Charlotte in Winnipeg, stop at the Scamp factory in Minnesota for a tour and a few repairs, sightsee our way through the Upper and Lower Peninsulas of Michigan, and eventually wind our way home to Richmond. In other words, we had quite an extensive camping trip ahead of us. For Wendy to be struggling with a painful neck did not bode well.
We had no sooner passed through the revolving doors when we spotted our good friends Nan and Sam.
“Hey, there!” We all shouted almost in unison. As Sam reached out to hug Wendy, Wendy flinched.
“That’s not good,” Sam said. “What’s going on?”
Wendy explained that the day before her flight, she’d spent too long pulling weeds from our gravel driveway at home. For Wendy, “too long pulling weeds” can be a whopping five minutes, but in this case, she was determined not to have the driveway overrun during our extended absence and had spent several hours at the task.
“Sit down,” Sam instructed, pointing to a cushioned bench in the convention center lobby. When Wendy complied, Sam, a professional massage therapist, put her hands on Wendy’s neck and began to work her magic.
After she loosened her up enough to get through the day, Sam pulled out her calendar and said, “OK, so let’s schedule times for the rest of the week. You’re going to need ‘em.”
I first met Sam in her role as a minister’s wife. I initially experienced her as someone who stayed in the background behind her more extroverted wife, Nan. As I came to know Sam, however, I learned how wrong I was! Behind Sam’s quiet demeanor lies a kind, generous woman who is above all, a powerful healer.
For years, Sam applied her healing hands to horses, and not the everyday horses you might see at a county fair but multi-million-dollar Kentucky racehorses whose owners entrusted only to the few.
By the time I met her, Sam had transferred her healing touch from horses to humans and was working as a massage therapist from the first floor of her Beaufort, SC, home. I heard from friends of mine who were her clients about her talented hands, and when I witnessed the intuitive care and attention Sam gave Wendy, I understood.
Sam possesses a humility grounded in confidence in who she is and what she’s capable of. There is no pretense, no bravado, just a quiet self-assurance that she’ll handle whatever comes her way. Make no mistake, she has crowed on the couple of occasions when she’s gotten holes-in-one on the golf course, but day after day, she just goes about being Sam, as best she can.
That is the gift that she has given me—a deep appreciation for the power of touch, how it can come from a quiet place, and how, without words, it says all that needs to be said.
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