I got summoned to my physician’s office this week. I knew it was coming so I wasn’t all that surprised. It had been two years since a physical and a year since I had been in the office. Since I had two pre-op workups before each of my total knee replacements the year before, I didn’t think I was missing out on any wellness. But it did get me to thinking about our bodies as temples.
I pulled some interesting quotes about the body from an old sermon fodder file:
Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live. ~ Jim Rohn
To keep the body in good health is a duty… otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear. ~ Buddha
The body is your temple. Keep it pure and clean for the soul to reside in. ~ B.K.S. Iyengar
The body never lies. ~ Martha Graham
Our bodies are apt to be our autobiographies. ~ Frank Gillette Burgess
The body is not a permanent dwelling, but a sort of inn which is to be left behind when one perceives that one is a burden to the host. ~ Seneca
Few of us have lost our minds, but most of us have long ago lost our bodies. ~ Ken Wilbur
And my personal favorite:
Scars are tattoos with better stories. ~ From a Toyota advertisement in Sports Illustrated magazine, 3 June 2002
We live in a very body oriented world. We have a heard time escaping the messages about cleaning up and fixing up our body. And if we can’t clean up or fix up your body yourself, there are several industries that will help us from cleanses to fitness to cosmetic surgery!
Every spiritual tradition has some sort of wisdom around the body as a temple. The body is to be cared for and honored as the special vessel it is. Great care was given to its design and it houses the precious soul, essence, or spirit. I’m most familiar with the Christian tradition that says:
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body (I Corinthians 6:19-20).
While we are constantly learning more about the complexity and intricacies of how the body works, there are aspects that are still a mystery. Science and medicine may explain how a disease progresses, but can’t always explain why certain treatments work in some and not in others, or why someone may completely overcome all negative odds and have a complete remission. Some are mysteries still to be solved, others may remain mysteries for us to accept.
I must confess that I sometimes I have a love-hate relationship with my body. I have learned to accept responsibility for my own health. I’ve also learned how to let go of those things I just can’t control. I may not be able to control my high blood pressure with diet (I can’t eat any more healthily than I already do) and exercise (I go to the gym every day!), but I can take the medication prescribed (even though I don’t want to). I may not know why I have celiacs disease nor will I be cured of it, but I know how to minimize the effects and maximize my health with it. I will never run or rollerblade again, but I can enjoy plenty of other exercises and outdoor activities within my orthopedic limitations.
There are temples or ruins of great temples all over the planet. For many native peoples, all of creation is sacred and deserving to be revered and respected. Magnificent temples were created to be dwellings and places of worship for God or gods. Great care was given to their location, design, construction, and furnishing. Rituals and customs were established for those allowed to perform rituals and rites and those expectations for those who worshipped at the temple. Many continue to this day.
I, for one, don’t believe God is relegated or confined to a material temple. God’s presence is all about us and evidence of it is seen everywhere in beauty and diversity and life. Our mission, should be choose to accept it, is to take care of the temple entrusted to each of us. After all, God dwells within.