Desert Sunflower

On my morning walk through the piñon forest surrounding my house I suddenly note a sharp pain in my knee. It is on the inner part just below my kneecap. I call on the Beloved and get the sense to adjust my gait so that I am not so forward. The pain eases enough so I can enjoy the stunningly clear sky and the mountain bluebirds tripping across the treetops.

But as I make my way home the pain persists, and in the coming days it flares up now and then. It is especially notable at night before I fall asleep, when my body is tired.

Days later, as once again my walk turns challenging because of the pain, I face the many subtle fears surrounding the experience. As I limp along, I see I am afraid of the cost of going to a doctor to get x-rays, and possibly surgery. Though I have health insurance, my deductible is in the thousands. And then the deeper fear yet, that this could somehow take away my most treasured activities: walking, hiking, skiing, cycling and swimming.

My mind wants to figure out the cause. Daily I do alignment exercises to keep my body fit and flexible, so why is this happening? Did I injure the knee when I fell on the Na Pali Coast Trail in Kauai? Am I walking improperly? Certainly a root cause is an old ski injury, but why is it flaring up now?

I don’t let my mind dwell on this—for I know that if I do, I create more of it. Instead I release all to the Beloved and make my way home.

Before bed I ask the Beloved for guidance. The next day I call a health hotline. The nurse goes through the standard triage and determines that nothing serious is happening, which eases my mind. Slowly as I walk, pet Arjuna and cook my meals I become willing—to go to a knee doc,  to even lose those activities so dear to me. What is truly important, I see, is my connection to the Divine.

A longtime friend comes to visit from Albuquerque. We talk, eat lunch and head out for a walk. So released am I from my knee situation I don’t even mention it to her, though I feel some pain as we make our way over hills and through arroyos.

I ask her about shoes for walking. Should I have more support or less? She explains that it depends on the strength of my arches. Back at my house, she—a physical therapist—asks to look at my feet to help determine the best kind of shoes.

When I roll up my pant leg, she immediately sees my knee and says, “What’s going on there?” She points out the bone spur—a bump on the inside, the sight of which has been troubling me. Then she has me show her how I walk.

She mimics it for me, and I see that I walk as though my right buttock is frozen. The movement looks a bit like an armadillo’s gait. She shows me a different way and then gives me three exercises to do to waken the muscles.

In the coming days I do the exercises and practice walking, using that hip. What’s amazing is I find that in swimming too I haven’t been using the full force of that leg but instead have relied more on the flutter of my calf. When I walk and swim I now feel the power of my gluteus maximus and thigh. Meanwhile, my shoulders and upper body seem to awaken too, so my whole body participates in these activities.

When I walk like this, I feel no pain. All activity seems to emanate from my immensely strong core.

I’m rounding the last corner of my walk, a slow rise that peaks with a spectacular view of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Suddenly I feel the power of all my body parts working together.

And I see the parallel inside. When I am not centered in my true self, each part of me vies for dominance. The physical body wants its pleasures fulfilled. The emotions desire safety and happiness. The mind demands to rule over all, with its agenda of excitement and engagement. It is like an orchestra in which each part thinks it’s the soloist. But when Soul takes the ascendant, all bodies fall into line, all help to harmonize and ascend.

My hips roll, my shoulders shift so my arms can swing with freedom. Yes, this is the harmony of the whole, played in the key of love.

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Image: Desert flower in Santa Fe

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