As a massage therapist, I am deeply aware of and committed to the value of most modalities of bodywork: muscular, circulatory, psychological, and overall vitality benefits. When it comes to massage, when—if ever—can it be too much?
Clearly, a physical massage takes place on a body that won’t be damaged by tissue or internal stimulation. There are numerous contraindications to various styles of massage; an educated, observant massage therapist knows and abides by these boundaries.
The “massage” to which I refer today, however, is not of a physical kind. It is one that I had never heard mentioned before this morning, when a sensitive, intelligent friend informed me of its existence. In response to my umpteenth thanks for her help, she took a breath, and ever-so-kindly said:
“A rabbi once told me: ‘Don’t massage an apology.’” She went on to explain that overdoing a “sorry” takes away its integrity, its depth, its truth. She used this rabbinical admonition to gently let me know that I did not have to “massage” my gratitude.
What a wondrous gift this was! And what a wondrous rabbi, wondrous friend, and wondrous circumstance: Without arthritis, without looming surgery, without the need for help, I would never have become acquainted with such wonders.