One day a man sat down on the couch opposite my rocking chair, and I said, “You’ve been in unspeakable pain all your life.”
He burst into tears and continued crying for several minutes. “How did you know that?” he asked, obviously proud of his ability to hide his feelings.
“You also grew up on a farm,” I continued.
“Yes, I did, but how did you know that?”
“When we walked into the house, I went to the kitchen, but you stopped in the entryway to remove your shoes. Not many people in the south do that, unless they’re farmers, and there aren’t many of those in our county. When I said it was cold outside, you agreed, which means you’re not from Canada or the Dakotas. I’d guess Iowa, since I lived in Indiana, and your accent’s close but not quite not right for Indiana.”
“That’s amazing,” he said. “My father was a corn farmer from Iowa.
Through a variety of means, people tell us with every breath and every action who they are. People who are in pain behave in their own characteristic ways, and as we learn to identify them, we grow in our capacity to facilitate their healing.