Categories: China, Velvet Ashes



These three are bouncing around in me. Touching, backing off from each other, combining. Do they fit together? Should they?

1. Oriental Massage opened in our neighborhood a few weeks ago.

2. This week’s theme at Velvet Ashes: Culture Clash (you know, a major theme of living outside of your home culture).

3. The Word became flesh and blood,
    and moved into the neighborhood.
We saw the glory with our own eyes,
    the one-of-a-kind glory,
    like Father, like Son,
Generous inside and out,
    true from start to finish.

John 1:14 The Message


Niece #3 loves to give foot massages, especially to her sisters; and common presents for her involve nice lotion and other items for giving massages. Unlike her two older sisters who had foot massages in China, she’s never had a “real” Chinese foot massage. I stopped by Oriental Massage to ask about prices and if they’d be willing to give a kid a foot massage for her birthday.

I swear, I walked into China.

Between the liquor store and pet grooming, a worm hole exists. It was the fastest and easiest trip I’ve taken to China as it didn’t involve visas, long lines, or jet lag. It was also the strangest since the primary mode of transportation was my car.

When I entered–and I will try not to repeat myself, but you know when you’ve disoriented, the default is to stress what you know?–it looked just like China. Except there were no people. Hello? Hello? Wei? (Chinese) Wei?

A smiling woman came out of the back (I think I interrupted lunch). We started off in English, but I switched to Chinese for the sake of communication. Yes, yes, of course we’d give you and your niece a massage! When I asked for her card so I could call and book the appointment, she pulled out a stack of stuck together business cards from some other massage place and wrote the phone number, handing me the the whole stack.

Oh my. I hope their business takes off, I thought.

The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. 

The next week they got their official sign outside and hung Chinese pictures with pressure points and meridian lines. Seeing as #3 had opened the gift (and I am thankful to say was thrilled!) I thought it would be better to book the massage in person than over the phone. Again, no people. Wei? Wei? 

After a way long wait for Miss Smilely, she emerged and booked the massage for last Friday. I just wanted to clarify we wanted the massages at the same time :) … culture clash and assumptions, anyone? Yes, yes, no problem.

It was at night I noticed it.

If you’ve lived in China, you know. Right?

What happens at night in China that might not happen in other parts of the world?

Neon. But not just neon, flashing neon.

The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. 

Neon 2

If I hadn’t been uploading posts about Culture Clashes and working with our graphic artist and swimming in The Poisonwood Bible for book club (talk about clashes! You can read the this week’s discussion here) and writing the final post of the week called 7 Stops on the Cross-Cultural Clash Continuum I might not have been so tuned into all of the “clashes” going on.

Before we entered for our massages, #3 and I spent time looking at the reflexology pictures, the meridian lines, and the pressure points. Oh look, there are pressure points over your eye, on the roof of your mouth, and . . . what’s that? Oh, an anus. Sorry #3!

At the end of her massage, #3 was given a root beer and a gorgeous green Chinese knot in the shape of a frog. They loved her! Who wouldn’t? But this was also a clash: the Chinese love kids in ways we (at least) Americans just don’t. They told me she was their youngest customer ever and just smiled and smiled. Afterwards #3 said, “Aunt Amy, they’d say blah, blah, blah in Chinese and ask OK? I’d just say OK.” Welcome to the first four years of my life in China, sweetheart :)!

No strong English skills, flashing neon, anuses, cans of pop. I so want them to succeed. I hope that everyone reading this within a 50 mile radius of my house will look for Oriental Massage near the King Soopers. I can’t link to it, because they don’t have a website. But this is what they do have: kindness overflowing, skill in abundance (very, very good massage. Oh, I should mention, because I forgot to tell #3, a foot massage also involves your face, arms, part of your back, and legs), and very comfortable tables (not really old crappy chairs, like many foot massage places in China).

Go in and while you have your massage, since you might not be able to chat with people, meditate on:

The Word became flesh and blood,
    and moved into the neighborhood.
We saw the glory with our own eyes,
    the one-of-a-kind glory,
    like Father, like Son,
Generous inside and out,
    true from start to finish.

Because the glory may be neon. Are they Christians? I have no idea. Nothing to indicate that they are or aren’t. But they have moved into the neighborhood and are generous inside and out. What better way to embrace God’s amazing variety in culture than through massage and meditation!


Related posts: 

7 Stops on the Cross-Cultural Clash Continuum {The Grove: Culture Clash} by Amy Young — “I thought I knew the direction this post was going to take and then I wondered, but what about this type of culture clash? Or this one? Or that one? As we’ve seen this week in the posts, not all culture clashes are created equal.”

Feet, Window To The Body? — Want to hear about a foot massage I had a few years ago in China? “Mr. Hou is clearly a firm believer in TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) and as the massage went on, pointed out many things wrong with my health; all of which can be helped by regular foot massage. We started off with the surprising news that something’s up with my ovaries.”

Leave A Comment

  1. Amy L. (formerly F.) ^_^ July 17, 2015 at 7:41 am - Reply

    And the Word became flesh!

    The next time I’m in town and have time to coordinate a “foot” massage, I will do so. Oh Joy! Then Baby A will be their youngest visitor (but perhaps not customer, so not as to cast out Niece #3’s status as the youngest) ^_^

    • Avatar photo
      Amy July 18, 2015 at 4:27 pm - Reply

      Yes, yes, lets! You know they’d love Baby A … on second thought, we might not get a massage if we show up with a baby :).

  2. Susan Gaines July 17, 2015 at 10:25 am - Reply

    I love this post. Vicariously, it was a fun experience and your statement, “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood” is so powerfully concise. Thank you, Amy.

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      Amy July 18, 2015 at 4:28 pm - Reply

      I’m drawn to that translation too Susan :)! I always love hearing from you!

  3. Suzanne O. July 17, 2015 at 1:19 pm - Reply

    Near which King Soopers??
    Contemplating someone giving pleasure and comfort to my ugly feet and therefore raising them up a smidge in significance and importance gives me pause. I’ll bet that even Jesus would have enjoyed a good foot massage–although come to think of it, he did get one at least once.

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      Amy July 18, 2015 at 4:29 pm - Reply

      Suzanne, I never thought about foot washing and foot massages! And just like that, a new spiritual discipline was added to Amy’s life :)

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