I want to live where soul meets body
And let the sun wrap its arms around me
And bathe my skin in water cool and cleansing
And feel, feel what its like to be new
These lyrics from Death Cab for Cutie's, Soul Meets Body, express that primal desire for wholeness. We all crave the fullness of soul/body health and congruence.
Observations from the gym...
As I work out each week at our neighborhood YMCA I’ve been curiously struck by the quick intimacy that takes place between the fitness client and their personal trainer. The small weight room echoes conversation usually reserved for the priest, psychologist, or maybe a spouse.
At some point in the 30 to 60 minute session as the trainer coaches and encourages, the client will inevitably launch into their work complications, parenting dilemmas, or social life details. I can't help but listen in to these TMI laced exchanges. I've come to the conclusion that when we see someone providing care for our exterior selves (even if we’re paying them to do just that!) our interior longings can't help from spilling out in what sometimes become messy expressions of vulnerability. Just ask any personal trainer or hair dresser or bartender or tatoo artist, etc.
The epidemic of loneliness shouldn’t be discounted here, but I also believe there’s another oft overlooked dynamic taking place. We long to live where soul meets body. We human beings have basic soul hungers which get outwardly expressed through our body.
This from Riso & Hudson, The Wisdom of the Enneagram,
The body plays a crucial role in all forms of genuine spiritual work, because bringing awareness back to the body anchors the quality of Presence. The reason is fairly obvious: while our minds and feelings can wander to the past or the future, our body can only exist here and now, in the present moment. This is one of the fundamental reasons why virtually all meaningful spiritual work begins with coming back to the body and becoming more grounded in it. (p.51)
This explains the impact of my recent 48 hour silent retreat. Shortly after arriving I began feeling such a crazy restlessness of both body and mind. I had to do something. I bundled up and began walking around the perimeter of the grounds. Hidden behind the retreat center property I discovered some great hiking trails. Even better, these trails were packed with hard January snow which made them more challenging and this type of physical exertion was just what I needed if I were to eventually settle down to pray, read, or rest. In that 48 hours of retreat I ended up blazing those trails four different times and I was far better off for it.
our body – our exterior – seeks to compensate for the state of the interior...
This becomes so obvious to me when I’m among the marginalized of our city. For those living the hard knock street life, the body language you see from their surface appears intimidating, unpredictable, and often high or intoxicated. These primal survival mechanisms are designed to prevent vulnerability at all costs and detach from that sensitive inner child who has experienced such trauma.
This reality has been especially profound among the Native American’s whom I’ve grown to love. If you and your entire culture had been brutally raped and repeatedly shamed as our Native brothers and sisters have then you quickly realize why an exterior persona would be fashioned to prevent this from happening again.
At the subterreanan level of the soul there is always more going on than we'll ever see on the bodily surface. However, the surface does typically provide the necessary clues of how to proceed in the moment. Just as the leaves on my tomato plants indicate the soil beneath is lacking water and nutrients, so it is with us. The body and soul are far from seperate entities as they cooperate together seeking oneness - leaning toward the health of the whole.
We lean toward oneness as a plant gravitates toward the light of the sun.
The song continues…
And I cannot guess what we'll discover
When we turn the dirt with our palms cupped like shovels
But I know our filthy hands can wash one another’s
And not one speck will remain