Faith and Village Style – by Ann Cecil-Sterman

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At 7:15am this morning the most remarkable thing happened. I had just finished my morning meditation and was starting on my gratitude practice when I heard a truck coming up the driveway. Looking through the window, I saw it was a red utility van. The driver turned the engine off but didn’t get out of the car. I watched for a short while, then put a coat over my pajamas, told my daughter to stay inside, grabbed my phone and went down in my slippers to check it out.

As I reached the vehicle a boy of about 10 emerged from the truck, holding a large bag of oranges. “It’s my Dad,” he said. He opened the driver’s door and his father, his face grimacing, slowly got out of the car, stood bent almost double for a minute, and then started walking to my front door. “Excuse me, do I know you?” I asked. His son translated: “He is Eduardo. He fixed your roof three years ago. You gave him needles and he could walk again.” Still bent over, Eduardo, was walking slowly toward the house as son spoke. I ran ahead and opened the door. Eduardo went straight to the sofa (where he’d lain badly injured on a freezing day), and very slowly lowered himself face down, groaning audibly. He was clearly in immense pain.

I pulled up his sweater and saw the paravertebral muscles sticking out of his back like two pipes. Even a gentle touch on these was enough to elicit an audible yelp. The pulses were also tight at the superficial level in the cun and guan positions of both wrists. Lungs were not dispersing. I dispersed LU-7 and then set up a sinew treatment by needling GB-44, BL-67. His face was in his hands and so I left out SI-18 where the leg yang sinews meet. Pulling the sweater up as high as I could, the rails formed by the extreme tightness in the paravertebrals extended up farther than I could reach. I started where I could reach, at the level of about the 5th vertebra. Using the twisting technique, I released the muscle band every inch or so. Normally one would palpate and choose the tightest spots, but Eduardo was in too much pain to accept any pressure at all. Even the pressure of the needle on the skin was almost too much for him. Working all the way down the paravertebrals, I came to the swelling above the sacroiliac joint where Eduardo said the pain was focussed. A few sinew releasing needles on that and it completely disappeared with no trace of the swelling remaining. I asked him about the pain and he said he only felt it along a band at the waist. I moxa’d that entire band and the last of the tension released.

He stood up, tested his walk and smiled. “I am much better,” he said. I encouraged him to keep his back warm and gave him a heating pad, telling his son that when his dad sits down, he must put it under his sweater. He thanked me profusely and went off with fully upright posture and at a good pace down to the truck.

As they drove off, I thought about how beautiful the whole encounter was, the faith he had, the determination to drive a rather long distance to the house while in great pain, the certainty that he would be better with acupuncture, the certainty that he would be welcomed. I felt full of feeling. Then I thought about village acupuncturists in ancient China and how it would have been so similar: someone comes up the path to your door not with hope but with certainty. Appointments weren’t needed, it was village living and that’s just what one does. Imagine how much good we could do if everyone presented with that much certainty.

-Ann

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