Grab a Shoulder


[This is a raw and simple piece from a recent ‘Creative Writing’ session. The community gathers around 7:30am Wednesdays on the back porch of Casa Mariposa to do writing exercises together. You’d be surprised how the creative juices can flow at that time of the day.” ]



In front of me are five little people, about six inches tall with a candle burning in the center of the circle formed by their bodies. It is a candleholder I have looked at and admired many times since we joined households to move into a community house, but this item did not originally belong to me. As I stare more closely, I see sadness, no, perhaps a deep sense of contentment in their identical little faces. Their noses are triangular and warmed by the fire in the middle. The candle is like a bonfire in front of them, perhaps they’re swaying and I haven’t ever looked hard enough to see it happen. Perhaps they’re humming.

Their balance seems perfect. I love how their arms are interwoven so methodically from one to the next, forming a circle. Each person has their right arm on the middle of the next person’s back and their left arm higher up on the shoulder of the other. The shoulder and back, anatomical places that hold a lot of muscular strength, yet, when overworked can easily be strained.

That reminds me, my back and shoulders have been tight and full of pain lately. I know that I hold my stress and the toll of a busy life and broken world in those places. I haven’t had the time for the touch of community or the fire of compassion, and passion, to bring me healing. I want to break into the circle. I want to hum and sway in my daily duties because I know that arms, interwoven are around me. I will release the aches and anxiety, exchanging them for the warmth and balance of community.


About Maryada

Maryada works as a volunteer medical professional and humanitarian on the US/Mexico border. She is currently working on her Masters of Public Health from UCLA and hopes to improve access to health for immigrant and refugee communities. With an evangelical background, Maryada has grown to love and practice the heritage of the Catholic Worker, and she keeps hope alive by gardening, traveling, and eating dark chocolate.

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