"Do now, do now, what you will wish to have done when your moment comes to die." [St. Angela Merici]

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Care and Feeding of Mind, Body and Spirit

By Micky Wolf

How often do we really pay attention to what we are taking into our being—physically, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually?

Unfortunately, it often seems a matter of convenience, whatever is nearest our reach. Whether entering through our mouth, thoughts or feelings, we seek to be sated and satisfied. At some point, however, we experience a sense of uneasiness, vaguely aware what we are taking in may not be the best choice. But we do it anyway. 

Trying to quench our thirsts or hungers with little awareness of what it is that we might actually be consuming can result in unintended, unhealthy consequences. To some extent, living this way has its roots in three seemingly innocuous attitudes and behaviors: impatience, familiarity, and assumption.

1.      Impatience

A surefire way to increase the odds we will ingest the unhealthy is to be in such a hurry we miss important details and insights.

When we rush through our day determined to check off everything on our to-do list, we may have some satisfaction of accomplishment. Yet, we may also realize at the close of day, as our head hits the pillow, that we experienced little real joy or any sense of deep peace.

When we allow life to become defined by the numbers of appointments and tasks we schedule, we may well end up functioning as little more than a machine, save for the blood flowing through our veins. Out of habit or by the example of those around us, we quickly learn to associate being busy with being successful or productive. Sadly, we miss precious moments of experiencing God in all things.

How many times do we rush into something with little regard for the knowledge, wisdom and insight the Lord would like to provide before we proceed? 

2.     Familiarity

Neither God nor Grandma are whistling Dixie with their counsel that falling into familiarity can breed thoughts and feelings of contempt for people and things, even attachments to doing things in a certain way. 

At the same time, if cavorting with contempt is undesirable by anyone’s measure, we certainly need to be aware of another offspring of familiarity—complacency.  Being too familiar with all that inhabits our daily life can lead us to believe we don’t need to pay a lot of attention to our surroundings, the events of the unfolding day, or what is happening [or not] within our thoughts, emotions or feelings.

Familiarity has a rightful place in our lives. However, what if we have become so comfortable with our environment and the people we interact with we rarely take the time or expend the effort and energy to see, hear, feel, touch, or taste the beauty and the joy—or the pain and suffering—that is almost surely present beneath the surface of the present moment?

3.     Assumption

If impatience and familiarity are potholes and traps to avoid when it comes to determining what we take into our spirits, minds and bodies, a third is assuming—pridefully believing—we have the complete story and facts necessary to making a good choice in any given situation. While this may be true in some instances, we underestimate the subtle ways assumption can contaminate the process.

Facts or knowledge can provide valuable insight in making a decision, yet as adults, we could learn a lot from children about the importance of the five senses God has given us. It is easy to assume the senses of sight, hearing, taste, touch and smell are gifts of God which serve only the purposes of human pleasure. Yet to do so would be to severely limit God in the ways He can work through them to encourage, enlighten, redirect our attention—or warn of us impending danger. 

What if we were to be as little children again—or for the first time? What if we were to discover we could see Him in the sunset and the suffering; hear Him in the waves and in the weeping; touch Him in the infant and the infirm; taste Him in the harvest and the hurting; feel Him in the frivolous and the forgiving?

Now, take another look at the bigger picture.

It is not likely the thirsty geese are fully aware of any potential threat to their physical health as a result of drinking from a puddle no doubt contaminated by the effects of run-off from the surrounding machinery, equipment and chemicals necessary to the everyday operations of a busy steel mill. 

On the other hand, one would hope we will not choose similarly, especially in light of all God has given us as human beings created in His image and likeness. Therefore, let us not allow ourselves to be deceived. We are not helpless or unequipped to take some responsibility for the health and well-being of our physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual being.

Do I tend to be impatient when it comes to satisfying my ‘thirsts'? Why?

Am I so familiar with my everyday life I have become complacent? 

Do I tend to assume my senses are primarily for pleasure?   

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