Because our body is temporary, I made the mistake of thinking of it as being unimportant. In fact, I wrote off the whole world that way. My thought was that unity with God in everlasting bliss was my goal, and I just had to hang out here in this mortal body bag until death came around to bring me to where the real party was.
This is a common pitfall in Christianity. It's easy to take the Christian teaching of how one should focus on God and store up our treasures in heaven, and twist it until the blessings that God is showering on us here are not even noticed.
Jesus said, "I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly." Jn 10:10b
He didn't mean that we'd only have an abundant life in heaven. If he meant that, he would have said that. He meant, rather, that a life lived in relationship with God can be a life lived abundantly. So why are we not taking advantage? Why are we not seeing the richness around us? Where is this life abundant that he promised?
Perhaps it is in front of our faces and we're not noticing. In order to help you notice, I have compiled a list of sensations for you.
Stop what you are feeling.
Go through the list slowly, and after each entry pause and recall the richness of the sensation.
- The island of a warm drink in the sea of a cold morning.
- The compulsion to tears and convulsions of the belly as someone tickles you.
- The gentle caress of a cool breeze lighting up the sweat on your body like prickles of ice.
- The exhilarating shock and complete embrace of a pool of water when you jump in.
- The burst of sweet juices inundating your mouth as you bite into an orange slice; the dribble that escapes down your chin.
- The pounding of your heart, the pit in your belly, the clank of the chain as you crest a hill on a roller coaster; the involuntary scream ripped from you as you plummet down that hill.
- The soft blanket that wraps around your heart when you sleep in someone's arms.
- The evaporation of your stress as a hot shower pounds your back and shoulders, willing you to relax.
- The thrill of the sound of someone you have missed calling your name.
- The reckless abandonment into dance and song when your favorite song comes on and you know no one is looking.
- The symphony of smells and grumble of your stomach as you walk in the door on Thanksgiving Day.
Part of this life "lived abundantly" means partaking in life with awareness. It means being present for the sensations it was meant to give you. It means listening to your body, and feeding it's five senses by being in it.
Awareness, also known as being in the now, being focused, or being present, is necessary if you want to balance yourself, and essential if you want to love your body the way it longs to be loved. But how do you attain awareness? You get out of your head.
Do you find yourself unable to sleep, because you can't quit thinking? Do your friends have to call your name several times before getting your attention, because you are so lost in thought? The truth is, most people spend the grand majority of time in their heads. They are thinking about the past, the future, resentments, fantasies, you name it. But they are not here. They are not thinking about the now, and they are letting the present moment pass them by. They are halfway asleep.
It is like God has prepared for us a feast, and he has called it life. But instead of sitting down to eat it, we mistook it for a fast food restaurant and asked to get it to go. We just weren't willing to slow down enough to take it in and savor every bite. We weren't willing to acknowledge the love put into it or the blessings that it offers. It's sad, really.
And where is God, anyway? Is he in the past, the future or the now? Since the past and future are mere figments of our imagination at this point, then God is here and now. Where are you?
When you live in the now, aware of God, aware of the world around you, and inundated with the abundance God promised, then your awareness of your body becomes something attainable. You begin to listen to it in a different way, to love it tenderly, and thus to heal from the damage done by years of neglect.
So how can you become more aware? Next Monday I will share with you one of many ways to practice awareness. The more it is practiced, the easier it becomes to dwell in it, and abide in God, who lives in the now. He is the Great Physician, and when you decide to start practicing his presence, the healing begins.