“That is not a massage. No, it’s not a massage. I was telling my neighbor, what happens is… healing. Three other people this week say the same thing. It’s healing, that’s what it is.“-Aunty Eliza
It seems unlikely, I’ll admit. This is the last place you’d visit for a spa experience, with these sun-faded sheets and shattered windows. I’m the last person you’d want give you a massage. I don’t even like feet.
I don’t know exactly when the idea took root. It swirled around in my head after I was given a massage with essential oils by my friend Ginger over three years ago. It was glorious, relaxing, calming and undoing.
For the next few years, I thought about this experience and how people deserved to be cared for like this. It’s one thing to provide physical needs, like food, but this, this was something different. On our second trip back to the US, two-and-a-half-years later, I again had another Ginger massage. God reminded me again of the power of the massage experience and how impactful it would be with people living in trauma.
I decided at the last-minute that it was now or never. I HAD to take this class to teach me how to do this very specific type of massage called AromaTouch*, with essential oils. I’ve already seen the healing properties in my life as I experienced their wonder.
The day before we were to fly back to South Africa, I enrolled in a massage class. At the last-minute, Susie, the instructor was able to make space. My friend Grace (don’t you love last-minute friends) and I took the class together. The following day we boarded a plane back to Cape Town. Little did I know that years of prompting to do this little thing would amount to a shift away from ministry as I envisioned it.
Here, in a little container in Ocean View, God meets people soul to soul. He reminds hurting hearts that He sees and He cares. There’s often tears, lots of tears. Cleansing moments in sacred spaces, long overdue.
There is something so beautiful and tender about healing touch. There just seems to be a moment when God steps in and between the chaos and crisis of life, gently reminds His loved ones that He cares. I don’t know when it happens and it’s never the same way twice. But He always, always, responds to the quietness and runs to His hurting children.
Here, in the most unlikely of places, God heals. Physically, emotionally, spiritually, psychologically. I’ve seen it. I’ve heard the testimonies. Here, with broken windows and no running water, in a metal box the sun sets ablaze, with kids screaming, parents shouting and a call to prayer from the mosque flowing through the gaping hole in the windows, there is a peace that settles and blocks out all else.
I’ve heard the wails of sorrow.
Of a mother whose murdered daughter was just buried.
And a mother whose son pulled the trigger.
I’ve heard the delightful sounds of snoring, a deep sleep of a grandmother who shares a bed with her adult daughter and her granddaughter.
I’ve heard the sounds of gratitude. Of being heard and seen, from a mother who shares a one bedroom flat with so many people that she sleeps in the kitchen.
I’ve seen the message of hope as it settles on a longing heart.
Of drug addicts looking for an alternative, or the prodigals longing to return home.
I’ve seen the fresh bruises and heard the anguished testimony of a life abused, and the tears of innocence lost in a place wild with rape.
There is something truly special when prayer and connection meet. Hurting people become fragile and open, offering their burden to be felt, to be lifted, even just for a moment. So for a moment in time, I get to hold that space with them, to look into their eyes, to really see them. And to remind them that God is not far from their broken hearts. And there I am, chosen to be the in-between.
Between the pain and the holy whispers as the fragrance of peppermint and orange lingers in the air, I know this is a sacred space. A healing space. A cherished space.
Is this a crazy way to minister to people, body, soul and spirit? Yes, I think so. Delightfully and unexpectedly so.
God wants to transform lives. He wants to awaken this community, to call it forth from the rubble. It’s time for Ocean View to arise. Her Light is here. Here, in this dysfunctional stable of a place, the manger still bears the promise of the Messiah.
Have a little peek inside the spa:
*AromaTouch is affiliated with dōTerra essential oils. Giveoils.org kindly and generously donates essential oils to make this possible. Thank you!