Beach in Sinkyone Wilderness [Photo by Jeff Richards]
My office-mate just returned from a 3-week vacation to the Western Pacific. While visiting family, he spent a lot of time on the beach and in bars relaxing and enjoying the “Island Life.” Hmm… that sounds really nice. And I don’t think I’m the only one. Work is good, but so is rest. As we talked about the declining health of particular elders in our family, our conversation turned to working out and taking care of our bodies as an essential way of living.
As created spiritual beings our bodies are where the Spirit resides. We are temples, cracked and chipped as we are, as our Brother Paul wrote. And we know this to be true. Prolonged stress or inactivity leaves our bodies overtaxed and underused. This causes us to squelch the God-given spirit within and cut us off from sensing what Jesus is saying to us as well as our ability to do what he says. If we’re stuck in fight or flight long past the moment of alarm we overextend ourselves, leaving us frayed and exhausted. And when we don’t physically care for our bodies we leave ourselves weak and inflexible.
From what I understand, being a land-dweller leaves my perspective skewed; the Island Life is an integrated life. One that is easygoing, taking stress in stride, doing what needs doing and yet enjoying the beauty of creation, including yourself and those around you. Yep, I want that life. I want to be flexible and strong, sensitive and healthy. That sounds like life empowered by the Spirit.
Which way to the beach?
Love. I don’t know anything more important than love. It binds together. Heals wounds. Bears burdens. Opens pathways. These are fruit of the Spirit. By them you will know the children of righteousness, the ancestors of Abraham, as it were.
Love reminds us who we are. We all come from somewhere not of our choosing. That which breathes life into unearned lungs, by its singularity denotes our unity. Love re-members us.
There is much to grieve. There is loss, I believe. Moments of disconnecting from suffering provide respite but they do not create peace. Life and relationship matter, and though we did not own them, an experience and way of being has left us. A bone is out of joint, perhaps even fractured if not dismembered. Grief is an expression of love to that which is no more and a balm for what remains. If seen through, grief will enable what is becoming to be full of love.
Today, like in days past, wars rage and are waged. Blood is spilt upon the land. Eyes and hands are closed shut. Instead, may we make love and peace. May each life flourish on the earth. And may we behold one another long enough to see a new day together.
Today I have felt the need for rest and rejuvenation. Or retreat and solitude. Our Midtown community of The WordHouse has been focusing on spiritual disciplines or practices during its worship gatherings. This is my world.
So right now, I’m under a blanket in our living room. I’m also staying connected to others, not including my thoughts of them, through Social media and the occasional text. Perhaps a bit too much, as I’ve been distracted by these media from my impromptu retreat. But it’s not all bad from where I sit. I just need to close my eyes, pray, and rest.