My back spasms in response to stress. At Ashley's funeral after I got up to speak, my back went into such an intense spasm that I couldn't breathe. I thought I was going to faint. That was a sudden dramatic pain that slowly relaxed over the course of 20 minutes. Yesterday, the reverse happened. Around mid-afternoon, the muscles in my mid-back began tightening, and by evening, the spasm was so great, I couldn't breathe.
I think the spasms have to do with words and communication. When I stood up to speak at Ashley's funeral before hundreds of people, I wanted my words to honor her, to celebrate my connection with her, and to communicate love and loss. I was concentrating on choosing the right words. I guess, unbeknownst to me, my back participated in choosing carefully, as carefully as if I were lifting a huge weight requiring much strength.
In the past few days, I've been similarly challenged to be a careful listener and carefully choose words in a myriad of contexts, for instance writing projects, ethical considerations, email, interviewing, job offers, requests for assistance, phone calls, lunch dates, and check-ins. My partners in these communications were close family, employers, colleagues, and friends, and each situation had different demands.
I had no idea how hard I was working until my back announced the strain. I called the chiropractor at 10pm last night. This morning my daughter sent this prayer in an email. It fit the circumstances . . .
Prayer for Today
Let me be this kind of friend, this kind of mother, this kind of wife, please God:
Oh, the comfort —
the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person —
having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words,
but pouring them all right out,
just as they are,
chaff and grain together;
certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them,
keep what is worth keeping,
and then with the breath of kindness blow the rest away.