Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Fist

One of the rare but chronic symptoms I experience under stress is a spasm in my chest. The spasm occurs in the proximity of my heart, but it isn't my heart. I've had it checked out. It is caused by a spasm in the intercostal muscles near my heart. These muscles are literally in the intercostal spaces between the ribs and attach at the sternum. When my stress is high, the kind of high stress that comes from a breaking heart, these muscles hurt. They twinge and spasm. You see I have what is called a Trigger Point in the muscle. Maybe the TP is in the pectoral muscle, not the intercostal, but who really cares? I know that the spasms are from a TP because I can feel it, and when I put steady pressure on it, the TP hurts with the same kind of pain of the spasm. But after a few minutes appling steady pressure on the TP the pain ceases.

And so do the spasms.

I think that when under stress my body tightens like a fist, angry and protective and preparing to protect. This is not always the healthiest response. But, since my massage yesterday I have suddenly been able to meditate once again. Meditating has alluded me for about two years. And now, just like that, I can again. I feel remarkably different. It all reminds me of this poem by Mary Oliver:

The Fist

There are days
when the sun goes down
like a fist,
though of course

if you see anything
in the heavens
in this way
you had better get

your eyes checked
or, better still,
your diminished spirit.
The heavens

have no fist,
or wouldn't they have been
shaking it
for a thousand years now,

and even
longer than that,
at the dull, brutish
ways of mankind -

heaven's own
Instead: such patience!
Such willingness

to let us continue!
To hear,
little by little,
the voices -

only, so far, in
pockets of the world -
the possibilities

of peace?
Keep looking,
Behold, how the fist opens
with invitation.

(Mary Olive: Thirst; Beacon Press Boston, 2006)

Nothing has changed in my life. All the stresses are still there. But I hope that the fist has opened on this diminished spirit of mine and peace can settle in despite it all. I think the fact that I have had no chest pains since yesterday is probably a good sign...


RevDrKate said...

what an amazing poem...thanks for sharing. Prayers for peace for your spirit for sure.

Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

That is a very powerful poem. I hope you chest remains open.

Barbara B. said...

Wow, glad you are able to meditate again!

Songbird said...

Unclenching with you.

Presbyterian Gal said...


Anonymous said...

Trying to learn to let the fist of my body... open... let go... give... begin to receive. May you find that soon. Peace friend.

Anonymous said...

This poem showed up at the perfect's been a stressful few days for me.

Hot Cup Lutheran said...

amen sister!

Processing Counselor said...

I know how much meditation helps, and how much practice helps, practice, practice, practice!

Rev SS said...

Thanks for the beautiful poem; and prayers for continued peace.

hip2B said...

Oh, peace for you...

Rev SS said...

As I shared with Kate: My favorite scripture when shoes all fell on me from Matthew 5:10-12 in "The Message"

"You're blessed when your commiment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God's kingdom. Not only that ~ count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comport and they are uncomfortable.

You can be glad when that happens ~ give a cheer, even! ~ for even though they don't like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble."

Katherine E. said...

Oh, I like that passage, Serena. Hope you did, too, Mompriest.

Gosh, I'm so sorry this is happening...can't these people see the diamond in their midst? Makes me want to shake 'em!--Wake Up! What's the freaking matter with you people?! Sheeze.

So glad the massage helped and that your massage therapist is such a gifted healer.

I've started reading a new book on leadership out of Harvard. It's called "Resonant Leadership," and it's saying that great leaders display three qualities: mindfulness, hope, and compassion. It's fascinating; I'm really liking it. Your folks may be too dense to get it, but you might find it an interesting read...

My prayers are with you, as always. May you know God's peaceful, encouraging presence.

Mary Beth said...

God bless you. Breathing for you, with you.

karlajean said...

your vulnerability and strength...
and all of these cyber-sisters are with you...holding you, breathing with you, unclenching with you...
take all this energy
soak it in...
you are not alone...many beautiful souls are holding you....
this is the presence of God...
prayers for your heart..

Grace thing said...

yes, what Karlajean said...

Jiff said...

Oh, dear you!
How are you?

zorra said...

Breathing and unclenching with you.

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