My hands curve around her right ankle to raise her foot; I cup her heel in my left palm and place my right hand over her arch. No need to do anything else, just hold this dark calloused foot of this unknown woman, just hold it, just breathe into the moment. There is no where else to be but this place where my skin touches her skin, no time but this time when her feet have brought her to this park and my hands have offered this work; our shared connection at her foot becomes a bridge across which her stories and mine now begin wordlessly to cross. As my fingers stroke lotion over her foot, her skin hears the silent story of the therapeutic skills I’ve learned for her. As I trace the bones of her misshapen foot my thumbs listen to her mute memoir. Her feet are dirty, her toes deformed; fungus grows under her nails. Chunks of dirt and slough fall from wherever I touch. It does not matter, because beneath my fingers I can feel a softening in her tired and neglected feet. The kindness and pleasure she receives now are echoing back from her feet to my hands; I am lost in the return of that same kindness and pleasure. The feet I am massaging have become my own feet and I can feel the strength of my thumbs kneading at the base of my own toes. This woman that I touch has mysteriously become myself; her journey has become mine.
Excerpt from the prologue to Marginal Eyes: Portraits of Hidden Teachers © 2012 Cynthia Trenshaw