Whenever I get a haircut people ask me if I’ve lost weight.
It reminds me of the power of perception. It also reminds me that I have gained more weight than ever and am carrying around a backpack full of flab.
I’m a classic example of a guy who lives on his ass and works in his head. (better than someone who lives in his head and works like an ass i suppose?) I treat my body like a machine. If I just keep feeding it gas and oil, I hope it’ll run forever. But of course, things wear out and fall apart. Will I just run this body til it needs a new heart, a new hip, a new ritual of daily medication, or will I change my mind about who I am?
For example, I spent an hour in extreme discomfort on Tuesday. I had neglected my dental office tartar-cleanings (I was on Sabbatical from responsibilities…sounded good in my head but…) I felt sorry for the technician who had to put me through this tortuous gum-bleeding tartar attack. She was earning her pay that hour. I’m sure she noticed my feet doing involuntary twists and my hands contorting the way my whole body wanted to react. I could sense her own discomfort about inflicting such pain. And I thought I also detected some frustration coming from her – “Why have you put me in the place where I have to hurt you? Take better care of your teeth you idiot!”
I think that kind of pain is called a wake-up call. Other people my age get heart attacks. They often get a second chance to smarten up. Sometimes not. I’ve got a physical exam with a doctor coming up in August. Something I haven’t done in 3 or 4 years. I already know what he’s gonna say. I visited the doctor for a minor issue last week and he gave me a quick quiz about my lifestyle. “Exercise?” he asks.
“Tai Chi once a week” I respond.
“Wouldn’t want to overdo it eh?” he comments.
Aside from sarcastic doctors and the flurry of shoulds and musts that run through my head, I’m looking for motivation. What would make me shift my lifestyle? Isn’t it even more than a lifestyle shift? Rather than try changing things on the outside – what I do with my body – I need to set my soul free to discover why.
Perfect solution for a minister eh? I am going to pray my way into better health. Does that sound like more avoidance to you? Typical headcase solution..."Exercise? Hmmm, let me think about it."
The power of prayer is about the power of imagination. As a Soul Doctor I prescribe for people new images of the world and their lives on a daily basis. The Lord’s Prayer is really all about re-imagining the world and my life through the eyes of God. Bible stories help us imagine that angels and visions and Christ-powered healings are just a step away.
All I need to do is step sideways from the chains and walls that I’ve let define my sense of reality. (eg. I am a headcase. I am only valued for what comes out of my head.) That sideways step into God’s kingdom can miraculously free me of those chains/addictions/dis-abilities and heal my perception of who I am in God’s eyes.
If activity follows will, (for example I’ve decided that I WILL be a good minister, I WILL be a good father, I WILL be a good husband) then miraculously I AM. (Those who don’t see it, who see the dust speck in my eye, are blinded by the 2x4 in their own eyes. Or so says Jesus.) What is lacking in my imagination is a vision of the physical/emotional/mental/spiritual person that I WILL become.
Driving back from a visit with my Spiritual Director it starts to fall in place. I listen to CBC radio reports about our overweight nation with an obsession over ultrathin beauty. Back to the whole self-image thing. If I don’t value my body as a temple of the soul, then who WILL or who else can? I decide to drive back to the church instead of heading home to do some phone calls and emails. Wednesday afternoons in the sanctuary three women offer a Healing Touch Ministry. It’s been a long time since I’ve carved out time for such care.
“It’s part of my duty to go and let them know that I value their ministry.” I tell myself (it sounds like the voice that says I WILL be a good minister).
On the table, shoes off, wallet and daytimer and glasses discarded, one of my ministers offers a prayer. “Use our hands God.” And in this sanctuary I open my mind to that prayer. This is a hands-on ministry. Therapeutic Touch is a science-based healing modality and involves some above the body work. Our team also use Reiki techniques in their practice. Reiki integrates spiritual and scientific knowledge. For this reason I need to know just who is offering this ministry, and which spirit they are inviting to be present. I know these three women well and trust them implicitly.
One of them has very cool hands and they give me a sense of calm resting on my face. Another has very warm hands and she holds my feet and ankles with them. Hands rest on heart, stomach, liver, kidneys, supporting their function with loving touch. Sometimes people feel a warming, or a cooling sensation within their bodies. I don’t feel this today.
What I do feel is mothered. I feel like a baby in a warm bath with a mother caring and thanking God for each and every part of me. As the session continues my heart opens to the prayer some more. I feel like God has hands today. She is letting me know how valuable this body is. It is not just a package for my brain and soul. My soul dwells in every skin cell and every muscle and flows through my circulatory system. The flow of love from God through these hands connects me with all creation. The artificial distinctions of physical and spiritual wash away. Layers of stress are washed away. Like dirt beneath my fingernails, like the grease that gets into a mechanics’ skin - it takes time to get it all out.
My sisters/mothers/ministers gently bring me back to my daytimer world. They magically lift their 2 metre, 100 kilo, minister back to his feet. I tell them that they have no idea what they’ve given me. I tell them the “God with hands” image I received and I know they are pleased. It’s what I love to hear when people come from that same sanctuary on a Sunday morning. That somehow, in something that was said, or sung, or acted out, some person felt God’s touch.
What has happened is that I have re-imagined who I am. My self-image that I see in the mind’s mirror has changed. God has touched my body and my imagination with a new vision. It has nothing to do with duty and doubts. It has everything to do with enjoying the choices I make and making them because I have fallen in love with the life God’s revealed for me.