Of biology and bunions

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“In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” Revelation 22-2

One reason I delight in biology is because it is all about life, renewal, regeneration, reproduction.  That’s actually the same reason I am a Christian, Christ is all about the healing, redemption, renewal, resurrection. What goes on in the spiritual world is also reflected or projected into the natural world. Mustard seeds, indeed.

People are amazing, our bodies are constantly renewing themselves. Every cell is continuously being replaced, so our entire bodies are not even the same bodies we had about 7 years ago. As we age the process slows down a bit, but it doesn’t stop. You can see evidence of this continuous renewal in our ability to physically heal. If you poke a hole in yourself, you’ll grow new tissue, new cells, new skin. Unless you bleed out. Don’t do that, because healing is all about the blood. No blood reaching an area,  the tissue begins to die, in a matter of minutes.

I work in healthcare and in a way, my entire job revolves around blood, keeping it flowing, keeping it pumping, making sure it’s circulating. I’ll let you in on a secret, doctors don’t really have a magic book of tricks. Some of them like to think they do, but in truth all they can really do is aid and abet your body’s natural ability to heal and renew itself. Some of the ways they do this are kind of clever, but the bottom line is that without that life force doing what it was designed to do, doctors are completely powerless to help.

Physical healing however, is only one piece of it. There’s this whole other dimension of spiritual, emotional, psychological healing. That’s my favorite because it is so complex, so inter-connected, and so delightful to witness. There is mystery and madness there, beyond anything we can even imagine. In dysfunctional family dynamics, like those involving addiction, if just one player changes their role in the script, it’s like knocking down dominos, creating ripples in a pond. The whole system is forced to change in response. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Always.

There’s a saying, “change yourself and you can change the whole world.” A lot of people just want to skip to the changing the world part, saving civilization, trying to influence everyone else around them as if once the world is fixed, all will be well in mine. We all do that at some point, but when we do, we’re all trying to do it backwards.

It’s actually not selfish to focus on yourself, on your spiritual health, on your relationship with your Creator. In fact, it is vitally important, because that is the foundation that everything else must be built upon.

I have this attitude, this bit of irritation that pops up when people in churches are praying for physical healing only, as if Christ came to Earth for the sole purpose of curing Aunt Mary’s bunions. I have the urge to ask if everyone has now been cured and healed of all their spiritual and emotional needs, because if so, I think it’s time for some of us to just start levitating. Once you have attained spiritual perfection, it’s simply time to ascend, so the rest of us can get on with the business of living.

I suppose that sounds a bit mean. Here’s the deal. It’s not selfish to focus and invest in yourself, in fact it’s selfish not to, because you deprive the rest of us of who you really are, who you were intended to be. You are not your bunions, your shin splints, or your aching shoulder. You are not the masks you wear. You are so much more than your physical body.

Somebody recently announced that “Christ accepts me just the way I am.” Well yes, Christ will meet you where you are, love you even at your worst, but if you want to try to understand God’s ways, God’s purpose, look to the natural world. Even stagnant water is not allowed to remain truly stagnant, it’s teeming with life and change and growth.

In the world, everyone dies, but not everyone lives.

****Repost from 8.21.14

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