Christine Valters Paintner writes in her book The Wisdom of the Body, “The body is the soul’s address.” Reflecting on that statement, I find much wisdom and truth in those words. How much do we appreciate our bodies? How grateful are we for them and the mysterious fact that they house our souls? There is no other way for our spirits to manifest except through our bodies. We are both body and soul, inseparable until death.
My body has been my soul’s address for almost seventy years! That is four times longer than any house I have occupied with a street address!
There have been many times through the years, however, I have not taken good care of my body. I pushed her beyond her limits, expected more from her than she wanted or was able to give. Fed her too much sugar and too much fat when what she needed was more fruit and vegetables. Sat in a chair when she needed to move, walk or exercise. Worked when she needed to play. Pushed when she wanted to rest and sleep. Yet, through all that my body has been faithful and served me well. She is still reasonably healthy and agile for her age.
I try to be more gentle and compassionate with her these days. I give her more water to drink, more healthy foods to eat. We rest when we are tired. We try to walk every day, stretch and exercise. I think twice before I ask her to lift something heavy or climb a ladder. And, we spend time in solitude letting nature and God refresh and renew us.
I am beginning to see and appreciate, after all these years, her real beauty and the wonder-filled, mysterious ways she functions and helps me to be in the world. What a gift and blessing our bodies are!
This is not some “new-age” thought for even the psalmist proclaims: “Truly you have formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb. I give you thanks that I am fearfully, wonderfully made; wonderful are your works. My soul also you knew full well; nor was my frame unknown to you when I was made in secret, when I was fashioned in the depths of the earth.” (Psalm 139:13-15)
Even now, with aches and pains creeping in that demand my attention and a heart that doesn’t always beat in rhythm, my body is still a faithful, marvelous and beautiful place of residence for my soul. What about yours? Can you see and appreciate the true, God-given beauty in your body?