Of Needles and Leaves--A guest post by Patricia Loughrey

In my daily life, I often feel myself gearing up—thinking about tasks that lie ahead and internally preparing for possible challenges. What if I can’t find parking tonight? What if my class doesn’t reach full enrollment? What if the cat’s excessive grooming is an indication of a dreadful underlying disease? I have an elder friend who says this about worry: 

“Worry is like gathering wood to build bridges to cross rivers that you will probably never come to." 

She’s right, but gathering worry-wood is a hard habit to break. That is one of the reasons I love coming to LBCA, and for me, the benefits begin when I step through the door. 

As a volunteer, I work at the reception desk for a few hours and then I receive a treatment. As I welcome patients, book appointments, and process payments, I am also gearing down. My mind and body know that what lies ahead is not a challenge; it is an opportunity to rest. When I enter the treatment room, I won’t be asked to lean in to life. Instead, I will be invited to lean back and let life—threading through the acupuncture needles—flow without my worrying about it. 

The big windows of the LBCA waiting area offer a great opportunity to practice watching the flow of life. On my last shift I saw… a mom pushing a stroller followed by three small kids—the oldest wearing a red and blue school uniform; the 51 bus heading south and a paramedic truck heading north; a large black dog pulling its human by a leash; a young man carrying an armload of laundry; and wind in the two huge trees on the east side of the street. Those are big trees; they shade the wall of the Covenant Presbyterian Church and shelter the folks who pass beneath. Recently, the treetops have been thick and lush with bright green growth. On a windy day, the branches dance and shake in a chaos of movement. But even on a still day, the watchful eye can always find at least one or two branches waving gently.

I’m not technically savvy—I still own a flip phone. I tell myself I should use free moments at the reception desk to explore the functions of the office smart phone, but often I simply watch the trees. There is something in the movement of the wind in the leaves that soothes me in the same way community acupuncture does. It seems natural, gentle, and vital. It quiets my mind and calms my nervous system. I don’t know how the wind can pick up one branch and shake it, while leaving the next branch motionless. I don’t know how acupuncture can heal and restore, but after spending an afternoon at LBCA, I don’t worry about those questions, I just feel grateful for the blessing.

The next time you are in for a visit, join me in some tree-gazing!