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Skin Deep

like a prayer rope in my hand

or, “what skin care teaches me about prayer…”

Earlier this past year I went to the dermatologist finally after years of battling this tenacious affliction of rosacea. It had gotten so bad that nothing would cover it. I’d dab and pat and powder and for maybe five minutes it looked fine. The moment I left the safety of my bathroom mirror it would rise up through the patting and powdering, that angry red rash like rosacea seemingly shouting, “you’re not the boss of me!” I have teenager skin with a toddler’s bad attitude. So when I saw the dermatologist finally he gave me two prescriptions and a few creams. It was a little overwhelming. It’s a lot of work to tame this particular thing and in fact, one of the biggest triggers comes naturally and is, for the most part, unavoidable. Hooray for my wavering hormones! Aging is fun!

Well, it isn’t fun but it is natural.

Seeking help for my rosacea came after years of denying that skin some care but it went deeper than that. I’m not much for makeup so I suppose I never gave a lot of thought to “skin care regimens.” The closest I ever got was the bar of Ivory soap in my shower. It wasn’t until I hit my 40’s and the rise of rosacea that it started to occur to me my skin was changing and I ought to pay attention to that.

Did you know that your skin is the body’s largest “organ?” Well, it is. Your skin is more than it seems, more than skin deep, as it were. It is a mirror for things happening in your body at all kinds of levels. In my case, the dermatologist said that I had a dual whammy of hormonal shifts and perhaps some internal issues causing inflammation. It just showed up on my face to give me a heads up. Thanks, face!

So the regimen involved two creams, a face wash and a daily low dose of antibiotics. It would take several months, he said, to show any improvement. Going from no regimen to this one was a struggle but I did it, and spoiler alert, it has been helping. It took about six months for me to really see a shift. It felt like forever and it felt like a small shift in appearance. When my doc saw me for the last follow up he was over the moon with the improvement. He saw it immediately. He was exuberant. “Are you getting compliments on your complexion?” he asked. I was taken aback. How could he see such a change? How could I not see it?

I’m too close. I look in the mirror every day. I’m not inclined to see the change.

This is where I see those small shifts, those new regimens mirror another part of my life, that of prayer in particular. Often, I can’t see the evidence of that daily prayer. Most days I’m tempted to just shove off on my day or close out the night leaving it behind. What’s the point? Does it make any difference at all? In this moment? Maybe, maybe not. But if I subscribe to the idea that what I see on the surface has its roots deeper than that, more than skin deep, then it does cast a new light on things. It does matter.

It matters a great deal.

#prayer #easternorthodox #changes #deep #skin