by Mary Williams
This article was originally published in PCJH’s Fall 2022 Pinnacle, “Living Our Faith”
When I was 43 years old, I had the opportunity to go back to school to pursue a new profession and set my long-term goals for my future. I chose massage therapy because I loved how I felt after receiving a massage. I wanted a career that would make people feel like that. I wanted to be a channel for God to bless people through my work. I enrolled in a career counseling program to ascertain that massage therapy was something I could reasonably do as a single person. It was confirmed.
Professional massage creates a safe place for peace, love and understanding. It is a place where judgement is put aside. It is a place where honesty is spoken. It is also a place to quietly invite God in to help people when people don’t exactly know what they need to be healed from. I guess you could say I pray over them, although not audibly. Sometimes I just ask God to lead my hands to where healing is needed. A professional massage room is a holy space. For me, it is the next best thing to being in a Chapel.
Five years into my career I was invited to join a women’s medical mission to Guatemala. Our mission was at a village high in the western mountains of Guatemala at 7,000 foot of elevation. I was the massage therapist of our team. This village of approximately 1,500 people had just been devastated by a mudslide from Hurricane Stan in 2005. Only 500 people survived. We were there 6 months after the catastrophe. As we travelled along the high mountainous dirt road through the jungle, we were occasionally flanked by militia holding automatic rifles and questioning us and our driver. Many people had been buried in the mudslide. As we approached the village, I could see vultures circling overhead. The villagers didn’t know what to do with the deceased so they stacked them on the edge of a cliff. If the bodies were not claimed by family before decomposition, they were pushed over the edge into the abyss. There was much sorrow and fear. PTSD was very real in the community.
The village consisted of many tents provided by US Rescue. My massage room was an empty room in a 4-room concrete block building with a dirt floor. I had to step over the concrete threshold to get from one room to the next. There were no windows and smelled of damp dirt. I was alone with my massage chair in the empty room waiting for my first patients. When I first placed my hands on a villager, I silently asked God to use me as a vessel to provide healing. We had two interpreters…one for English to Spanish and the other for Spanish to their own dialect. God was able to understand and speak to all of us. When each session ended, the individual stood up smiled and bowed to me (their custom for “thank you”) and departed. I felt honored to play a part in their healing process, even if I will never know what fruit came from their experience with me.
My mission statement as a massage therapist is to help people heal from their pain and to inspire them to sense the world is a better place as a result of my massage. Helping people feel better physically helps them feel better spiritually. I am present with them to assist in connecting the two. I see myself as a mediator who can help people heal themselves through massage with God’s help.
I’ve been a massage therapist for 22 years now. I have spent the last half of my career in a small town in Montana. God has blessed me with a home of my own, a small cabin perfect for me. God knows I love nature and beautiful landscapes. He put me right in the middle of His Great Creation, and every morning I am reminded of his Grace and Love for me.
I believe it is God’s will to join him on the Great Adventure he calls us to. If we ask and listen, he will show us the way. I believe I am exactly where He wants me to be. I am using my gifts to give back to my community in Livingston. I feel content and blessed and closer to the Lord because I am doing what I consider His Work. I am helping my community, even if it is one person at a time.
I hope to provide chair massage at the next PCJH Women’s Retreat. I look forward to meeting all of you and rejoicing in God’s love.