The Core: Physical Therapy & Prayer (#SmallWonder Link-Up)

It’s my second day of Physical Therapy for lower back pain.  I lay flat on my back on a green, cushioned table.  My knees are bent and I lift my pelvis in and out of bridge pose ten, twenty times.  “How does that feel?” the therapist asks.

“I feel it pull a little in my lower back,” I say.

“Are you using your core?” he asks.

I pause and listen to my body.  I hear no answer.  “What do you mean?” I ask.

“You want to be using your transverse abdominal muscles to lift,” he says, “not pushing up with your legs and back.  That’s why your back’s tweaking.  It’s not about how high you can go, it’s about using those muscles.”

I turn back to my body and try tightening my lower stomach, the soft section where my children grew.  “Hello,” my transverse abdominal muscles whisper as if waking from a long nap.

The therapist goes on to tell me that the lower abdominal muscles, commonly referred to as the "core," act as a natural girdle keeping the pelvis and spine in alignment.  I wonder, as I redo my bridges, how I can go through years of my life completely disengaged from my core?


A week later, I lay belly-down on the long, green cushioned table, my face pressed into an oval opening.  My shirt is lifted, my back exposed, and a therapist works slow circles in the muscles of my lower back.  Later, cool gel holds pads in strategic position and wires send electricity buzzing into tightened muscles coaxing them into surrender.  A layer of warm towels is laid on top, a timer set, and the therapist busies herself in another part of the room.

With my face in the hole, I close my eyes, I open them.  My contacts drift across my eyes and the world around me is slightly out of focus.  Conversations float through the air and I tune them in and out like radio stations. 

The electrical stimulation on my lumbar spine feels like hundreds of tiny ants dancing, their feet on fire and it’s not an altogether unpleasant sensation.  I open my eyes, I close them.  I rest and think of the woman waiting on a long-desired pregnancy.  I pray.  I think of the man who is dying and his wife.  I pray.  I wonder who I am here in this place.  At Physical Therapy, I am muscle and bone, slouching posture, weakened core.  But, beyond that, am I young?  Am I old?  Am I mother, daughter, wife?  I listen to hear what my life will say.


After the timer goes off, the pads are removed and I flip from stomach to back.  Knees bent, I practice “fall outs” and “ninety degree presses” counting slowly from one to thirty on each side.  My mind drifts, and thoughts go in and out of focus but I return again and again to tightening the core, attending in each moment to that inner space.   

This, I know, is what prayer is, a centering practice, a movement in which, putting aside all else, we tend to the core.

*   *   *

Welcome to the #SmallWonder link-up.  

What if we chose to deliberately look for small moments of wonder, the small sparks of presence, of delight or sorrow, of true humanity in which we meet God?  

That's my proposal - that we gather here each week to share one moment of Wonder from each of our days.  You're invited to link-up a brief post about a small moment of wonder.  Don't worry if your post is too long, too short, or not just right - you're welcome to come as you are.  

While you're here, please do take a look around and encourage at least one other blogger with a comment.  Thanks for being part of our community!  


  1. Wonderful words for me this day. I tend to ignore the core far more than I think. I want to respond to that which is key to the rest of the body, mind and soul. The heart's core is vital as well. Thanks, Kelly. I am grateful for this PT example that translates into the real.

  2. Thanks Kelly, those muscles are really easy to ignore, yet so important. I need to do a better job of talking to them! Also glad to hear you are getting help for your back pain.

    1. Yes, easy to live as though they aren't even there!

  3. I love how you find the spiritual in all things, Kelly. "This, I know, is what prayer is, a centering practice, a movement in which, putting aside all else, we tend to the core." Yes. Blessings to you as you go through the healing process.

    1. I think it's what keeps me going (finding the spirit in all things). I've struggled to make the time for PT, so writing about it helps!

  4. What a unique parrallell. Lifting our souls by the core so we don't throw our back out. Our spine. Our allignment. Thanks!