Of the comics, "Zits" was pretty funny because the teenage boy had a "serving" of lasagna that was big enough to feed an entire room of people. But the one that caught my attention most was "Frank and Ernest" by Thaves.
They were outside a pharmacy, which they often do have something to do with a pharmacy. Since my husband is a pharmacist, that always catches my attention. One of them is on a set of scales that says "your weight". The other is looking on and remarks: "That body you consider a temple has become a mega-church." Whew! That can be both an "Ouch!" and an "Amen!" It is both funny and sad. Though it makes me chuckle, it goes deeper than that too.
Take a look:
I have had my ups and downs with this issue. These days, I am more in the realm of "eating to live" rather than "living to eat". I still enjoy eating. I am still overweight. But, I pay more attention to my body, to what it needs, to when it is full. I also pay attention to portion sizes and what I put into my body. That doesn't mean that I don't sometimes put in junky things (like a Krispy Kreme donut every now and then or some other crazy thing), but I attempt to keep it balanced.
Listening to my body has been a big part of this growing awareness of eating more healthier. And, that has been due to things such as diabetes, anemia, kidney stones, frozen shoulders. I have needed to pay better attention to my body, the temple, in order to figure out what was going on inside it. So, I've been listening and paying attention and then trying to do things about it.
Exercise is an important part of my regime. Taekwondo and zumba are my main workouts. Walking and hiking are thrown in as often as possible. Yoga was a part of my routine, but that is something I will now try to do on my own at home (or with the help of a program) due to cutbacks. Yoga for wellness suits my needs best.
Rest is another important part of the equation in taking care of the body. I don't think I really ever understood this until my body became tired from anemia and I had no choice, but to rest. Likely, earlier in my life, my body attempted to give me messages that it was tired and worn out, and likely sleep deprived, etc. But, I pushed it to the limits. That is not as easy to do as your body ages and changes. At least for me it hasn't been. And, I'm glad. Because I finally had to start listening. As I listened to the pain from the kidney stones and the fatigue from anemia, etc., I learned to respond to my body's needs more readily. This is an area I'm still learning about and working on.... I sometimes don't read or hear the signals well and/or I simply ignore them and keep on going. But, I'm learning to submit and rest. It is amazing what rest does for the body-- the brain re-energizes, the body can move again, etc.
According to an article in yesterday's paper (Chattanooga Times Free Press), rest and excercise go hand in hand. "Poll Shows Strong Link Between Excercise and Sleep"
Taking care of my body, taking care of your body IS important. If we are not in good shape, in good health, it is difficult for us to do what we are called to do here on this planet.
In Ruth Haley Barton's Sacred Rhythms: Arranging Our Lives for Spiritual Transformation, she devotes a chapter to the body: "Honoring the Body: Flesh-and-Blood Spirituality". She opens the chapter with these words: "Surprisingly enough, it was in the process of staying faithful to the spiritual journey that I first began to face my profound ambivalence about life in a body." (78) After sharing what she had not been doing, she shares: "I needed specific guidance for how to care for my body as a part of my spiritual practice and as preparation for the rigors of the spiritual journey into which I was being invited." (79)
Taking care of the body is a part of the spiritual journey. Even though I first read these words by Barton in 2007 and I have been made aware of this fact at every Academy session over the past two years, for some reason, it easily slips back into somewhere else in my consciousness, if I will allow it. I must be intentional in reminding myself that taking care of my body is an integral part of the spiritual journey and therefore I must be intentional in doing those things that are good and right for my body. Taking care of my body is as much of a spiritual practice as is praying, reading the Scriptures, etc. In fact, let's be honest. I am not able to do anything unless my body and mind are in good condition. So, why wouldn't I put that as a top priority in my spiritual practices?!?! Why does it slip and fall as a priority? Well, again, in honesty, there are other spiritual practices that slip and fall as priority too. It takes intentionality. It takes focus. And, it takes reminders. Accountability and community come in handy too.
It's not an easy topic to deal with. It's almost one of those 'pink elephants in the room' type topics. But, our bodies are what we have to live in, what we have to work with. Little by little, there is hope for progress on these fronts.
Frank and Ernest lightly point out the physical and spiritual side of this issue.
It made me think. Thank you Frank and Ernest, thank you Thaves for jogging my thoughts toward the importance of honoring my body and taking care of it as a spiritual practice.
Once again, the comics have helped me learn a spiritual lesson.
Maybe you already have this spiritual practice down and/or it's simply not an issue in your life for other reasons. If you'd like to think through it more, I encourage you to check out Ruth Haley Barton's book that I mentioned above and her chapter on the topic as a starting place.
Blessings on your journey,