Tag Archives: wholeness

This world is not my home….or is it?

One of the most destructive views, in my opinion, is the belief that we are just passing through this world.

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Why is this so destructive?

This belief leads to the idea that the whole point is to decide if your going to go “up” or “down” after you die. (Up being good and for the special elite. Down being bad and where the vast majority of the human race goes…and somehow this is couched under the idea that this is good news?) Often this idea is said  for one of two reasons.

First, this is said frequently when someone is frustrated with the way things are going or they see so much injustice around them. In other words, behind this view is often the unspoken idea that “this world is messed up and doomed. You all are screwed, but I’m glad I’m not.”

Secondly, people fear the unknown, particularly what happens when you die and they desperately desire certainty. Certainty is likely one of the greatest deceptions and yet greatest draws toward religion for most conservatives.

Not only does this produce a sort of arrogance and an attachment to one’s views (what happens when people die is pure speculation and none of us know), but it is also destructive. Before I share why I think this way, let me first say that I resonate with part of the reason behind this saying. I do think that our beliefs about the afterlife matter. Try telling a mother whose child is about to die that she shouldn’t have any hope or that she may not see her child again – not helpful or hopeful!

Hope is at the core of the Christian story, but it isn’t a hope focused on the afterlife it is a hope focused on this life. 

Again, as a Christian, I think we can have hope for some form of life after death – though I am less and less convinced it will look like streets paved with pure gold, harps, or a burning fire of ceaseless torture. I am much more hopeful than to think that only a select few will enter into “paradise” while the majority suffer. I think we will all be shocked.

In the Jewish tradition there is a phrase called tikkun olam (pronounced tee-KOON oh-LUHM) which means “the repair of the world.” It is this idea that God is working to bring about reconciliation, healing, and wholeness to the entire world and we are invited to be a part (this is how I understand salvation). This goes beyond the overly simplistic idea of individualistic human salvation (very anthropocentric). God is not just working to save humans, but the entire cosmos.

Both the Hebrew Bible and the Christian Bible would seem to support  tikkun olam more than the idea that the world is not my home. Starting in the beginning is a story that speaks poetically about a God who creates a good and beautiful world and then invites humans to continue creating, naming, and tending to this world. Nothing is said of this being “temporary” or there being “another, better place” afterwards. According to this narrative, God takes delight when humans continue to create and continue to bring about order and beauty in this good world.

Interesting to me that those who believe that God created the world and called it good are often so quick to want to leave it behind!

The vast majority of the stories found in Scripture are stories of a God working to help bring about justice, peace, equality, and wholeness in this world. Instead of trying to escape this world or tell everyone how bad, evil, or messed up they are, it seems much more in line with God’s movement to work toward things like sustainability, equality, natural energy, health care for all, businesses that benefit all not just a few, education that encourages forward thinking, and so many other creative ways. Our carbon footprint matters. Our use of water matters. Our diet effects others. Our way of transportation matters. Where we put our trash and if/how we recycle matters. These are all issues of tikkun olam – working to bring about healing and repair. We are not “just passing through,” but are a part of this world and what we do with life in this world matters immensely.

 

 

 

 

 

Health and spirituality – part 2

You don’t have a spiritual life, you are a spiritual life. – Rob Bell

At the very core of my convictions, I whole heartily believe this. This has major repercussions that I am still working out in my own life.

Some people compartmentalize their life. They have their work life, their family life, their hobby life,  and their spiritual life. This is helpful to be able to examine the different areas of one’s life and reflect on how they are finding meaning in each area. That being said, this can easily lead one to see life as distinct from spirituality. I think this is a mistake.

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All of life, every aspect, is spiritual.

Your work is spiritual, your family is spiritual, your school is spiritual, taking care if kids is spiritual, doing laundry is spiritual, grocery shopping is spiritual, and yes…cooking is spiritual. In fact, the table may be seen as an altar that binds people maybe more than any other act. Think of it, deep relationships are often built by eating together and sharing stories.

Health is spiritual.

Health is not separate from spirituality, but it is part of who your are as a spiritual being. I’m not at all against western medicine, but one of the things I find most compelling about naturopathic medicine, is that at it’s core it correctly understands that everything is connected – your nutrition, exercise, sleep, work, stress, and overall happiness not only affects your attitude, but it affects your mental state and your overall well being including health. Naturopathic medicine looks at the whole person and seeks to bring about healing in a holistic way.

As I am learning about health, how my individual body reacts to certain foods, what is most nutritious for me to eat and not eat, and learning how to be disciplined in these areas (work in progress), I am learning that this is a spiritual act. In fact, it may be one of the most spiritual acts a person can do and this is why.

The best gift you can give to the world is you.

You can offer a healthy, whole you, or you can offer an unhealthy, broken you. Of course we are always a work in progress, and I don’t think we ever fully arrive, but I think you would agree with me that there are clearly healthy people and unhealthy people – and that can be understood on a number of different levels (emotional health and maturity is also impacted by physical health).

I have talked to a number of different people lately who have shared their journey to becoming more healthy and how that has changed their life. This has inspired me and made me more passionate. I have a conviction that one’s overall health is a deeply spiritual thing. Depression, anxiety, stress, fear, heaviness, motivation, can all be helped by living a more healthy lifestyle.

We live in a culture that is working against us in this way. Our lives are so busy and the fastest cheapest food is often garbage. Who hasn’t been in a hurry to get somewhere and grabbed the quickest thing? Becoming a healthy person is a process and it takes time, but I believe it is one of the most worthwhile endeavors we will make. In the process, I think it’s important to take small steps and celebrate these. I think it is also important not to judge others or look down upon them, we don’t know their circumstances, history, or story. You are trying to be the best you. You are not trying to be better than someone else.

My hope in writing this is that it helps you realize the spirituality of health, and I hope it may inspire you to make small changes. This is not a selfish act, in fact it is just the opposite. Becoming a more healthy person is, I believe, one of the most beneficial things for our world. We need more healthy and whole people. We need you to be the best, healthiest  person you can be.