This poem was written in 2003, when I was an adjunct instructor and clinic supervisor in the Massage Therapy program at the New York College of Health Professions on Long Island. The program was heavily based on Taoist principles and students were strongly encouraged to work on their personal development in order to be present and centered in every treatment they delivered. But these ideas sometimes met resistance. This poem speaks to such a moment.
© MG Mandarino 2003
How many stars can you count?
How many lives can you touch –
not with your hands, eagerly circling and diving
into points –
but with the stillness of your heart?
And how many lives might those lives touch?
Close your eyes. Know who you are.
Sink deep into the earth.
Become the void, clear as pipe.
Be the vessel between heaven and earth.
“But I am not spiritual,” you lament.
My friend, leave such worries to bishops and popes.
Let your hands melt
as you offer the fullness
of who you are,
of who you have become,
of who you are still becoming.
It is in the deepest moments
without even knowing,
that we touch
the face of God.
-Maria Grace Mandarino