She put the candle down, turned to me and asked quite simply, “What happened?”
“Well, nothing that I can think of.”
“People who grind their teeth often have had traumatic moments. Either when younger, or more recently. So, what happened?”
She peered at me with deep blue eyes. Her deep brown complexion holding tight frame around that gaze, her dreads piled into a hive above her head. Before she reached for anything else, she held a hand with palm upward, stared at me with care and asked again, “What happened?”
I had just come from the dentist, by way of the pharmacist. The prognosis? Next Wednesday I’m to have my teeth extracted. Two weeks after that, a deep numbing cleaning of the underside of my gums. And then a week after that? Molds made for new teeth. These last few years were manifesting themselves into a nightly grinding of my teeth, moving them back and forth so aggressively that this coupled with poor nutrition and stress had allowed gum disease to set in.
I was prescribed antibiotics, went to the pharmacist and bowed my head as I took my bag of pills and walked away feeling empty. I hate taking antibiotics. I hate taking aspirin. I hate pills.
But, in this neighborhood we are blessed with an abundance of spiritual complexities. It is one of the few places in the world I know of where you can watch a Vietnamese Buddhist monk cross the street in his orange robe, pass a Kabbalah center, cut through the parking lot of a Methodist church, to fetch a cup of tea at a vegan cafe that shares it’s property line with a Catholic thrift store. Jerusalem should take note.
With that said, I popped into Avalon. Now, at first you want to call it a Pagan hub, a Wiccan knowledge base, a place where those that dance in Faerie magic reign. But, it’s been there for so long, and they offer so much more in the ideas of the unseen, that Avalon screams shyly of a place for anyone needing a different approach to the typical. And it truly is a neighborhood store. In my late 20’s I went there to buy incense and books on Hermetics.
As I stepped into the store, I just kept thinking, “I don’t want to lose my teeth. I don’t want to go through all that pain. I don’t want to spend the next six weeks in pain. I just don’t.” I wanted to ask for any help I could, any herb, any oil, a certain candle of a certain color, anything all that would let me keep my teeth and my sanity.
With the store busy with a flurry of people I walked up to the counter and made my case, “Do you have any advice? Do you know of anything I can do?”
She motioned for me to follow her to a room behind the counter. She popped her head in and asked to someone, “Can you do a candle for teeth?”
The voice said, “Yeah. Come inside.”
There was a woman, a dew drop shy of 3o if that, dressed in black, her tight woven hair piled high, her hands quickly reaching for multitudes of canisters that lined the wall. She said without looking at me, “I need you to go back in the other room and grab me some fluorite.”
I stood confused, not knowing what fluorite was, but did as I was told and asked the woman behind the counter to help me find some fluorite. She guided me towards some beautiful stones and said, “here you go.” I grabbed one, rushed back into the small little room and handed it to the woman in dreads.
She then started reaching again quickly for different herbs and roots off the large book case in front of her. Her hands dipping into a pile of salt before doing so. “So, what is wrong with your teeth? Do you have cavities?”
“No, I’ve been grinding them.”
She stopped, and finally at looked into my eyes for the first time.
She asked without hesitation, but with concern in her eyes, “What happened?”
“Nothing. I’m having problems with my teeth.”
“No….no no. Something deeper there. Your teeth are the symptoms for something bigger you’re holding onto.”
She looked at my hands. “They are soft. What do you do for work?”
“I knit. I’m a knitter.”
She said, “There is kindness in your hands…These hands do a lot to help people. They help heal people….But, sometimes the healers are the worst at helping themselves. Something inside you still traps you, holds you every night while you grab your teeth,” she said looking at me with curiosity, “and whatever it was that happened, it is very strong and it’s showing itself in your teeth. So, what happened?”
To be continued….
This is the story of how I knit my way out of homelessness. To order an autographed copy of “Will Knit For Food” click here, or for a Limited Edition personalized, signed paperback copy with t-shirt, click here.
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