I am learning that Care Through Touch is much more than "hands-on work,” it is "heart-work." It is a way of life, a way of "being" in the world.
Tenderloin Immersion Day
On Monday, March 28, 2016 twelve Sabbatical students from the School of Applied Theology, an affiliate of the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, CA came to CTI for an Immersion experience: Compassionate Immersion into Poverty and Homelessness. Such experiences invite participants to set aside their preconceived notions of homelessness and poverty and enter with fresh eyes into the circumstances that bring about poverty and the loss of ‘home’ and familial connections. In connecting one-on-one with homeless and marginally housed women and men, myths are dispelled, respect flowers, and friendships are forged. Said one participant, “I came to experience ‘homelessness’ and I’m leaving with a sense of HOME!”
Treat For the Feet on Holy Thursday
On Holy Thursday March 24, 2016, twenty-four Care Through Touch volunteers gave nearly eighty-some foot massages to poor and homeless people throughout the Tenderloin neighborhood of San Francisco. It was a glorious display of fun and faith; hope and joy; care and love. “This is what makes this day HOLY for me”, said one of the volunteers. Thanks to all; and thanks to ALL who have participated in the past twenty-four Holy Thursdays!!!
Watering the Seed of Care Through Touch
Fifteen years ago I received a present. It was a book titled “Care Through Touch: Massage as The Art of Anointing” by Mary Ann Finch. Right then and there, it planted the Care Through Touch seed in my heart. Fast forward to November 2014, I found myself participating in an Immersion Day at CTI as part of a Sabbatical program I was attending at the School of Applied Theology in Oakland, CA. That day, spent among the homeless community in San Francisco, brought the incubating seed to the surface. In the words of the Irish poet Seamus Heaney, “my heart was caught off guard and blown open.” As a result, I began the training program in January 2015.
I am learning that Care Through Touch is much more than "hands-on work,” it is "heart-work." It is a way of life, a way of "being" in the world. To be truly connected with the person who comes to me for massage I need to realize that what this person needs from me is my heartfelt presence. CTI challenges me to look beyond the outward appearance of the person who is present with me, to see beyond the sometimes delusional, angry, manic, depressed, addicted behavior, and let my heart work through my hands. There are moments when I come up against my own fears, insecurity and prejudices. But I have learned that these moments are an invitation to respond both to myself and to the other person with kindness and compassion. Compassion waters the CTI seed in my heart.
Finola Laide is from Ireland and a CTI Intern.