Body and Soul

By Craig Canfield
October 16, 2019

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Gen. 1:27 

If we are all “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Ps. 139:14) as a basis of the imago Dei (image of God), shouldn’t we focus on taking care of and valuing our physical state? Every therapist who has lost a patient to heart disease knows how the body in therapy can be betrayed. After all, we are told that there are physicians who can tend to these issues. Like so many other things in which we are told not to meddle, we are often told that our business is solely with the Psyche, that there are enough issues here to attend to without our insistence on the importance of physical matters. 

But then the inevitable call one day comes. . .”I’m just calling to inform you that Jim will not be attending his session with you today. This morning he died suddenly of a heart attack.” There can follow a nearly comically, macabre moment when the therapist then recollects one minute, now totally irrelevant detail of something that had occurred to the patient decades ago, but that had been unearthed only a session before his death, that the therapist had intended to return to in today’s session. “Heart mysteries”, as the poet W.B. Yeats spoke of, may extend beyond the physical, but without the physical, well, what then? 

There might be a few other “concepts” contributing to such a betrayal. The second, the projected idea of ‘heaven’ resulting in the view that the body is just a shell, a vehicle for journey on earth to get us to heaven. The reasoning then often heard in response to voiced concern about some physical issue is, “then why worry so much about the body? After all, should we not live for the next life, the life in heaven?” However, God called “very good” his creation that includes physical bodies. If our bodies are His temples (1 Cor. 6:19-20), doesn’t it warrant our focus and attention? 

And third: our idea of the Resurrected body, the Mystical body, the Body of Christ, that this “body” has nothing whatsoever to do with the body of man, therefore keeping it entirely apart from an image of our own “health” to be obtained. However, one might argue that through his incarnation, Christ became flesh to restore bodily life through the Resurrection, not to rescue only spirits for an ephemeral heaven. 

Walking the loop around Prospect Park, I spotted last week a very, very young boy trying out his newly acquired “running legs” towing a kite behind him. The kite would rise and then fall, rise and then fall, but the falling had little to do with his own endeavors. What he never turned around to see was his two little mischievous brothers stepping every other second on the tail of his kite, keeping it from ascending. Thus the blocking agents within us, or outside of us, trying to get our “kite of health” forever from soaring in the air. It’s good on occasion to turn around and note the interference. 

_________________________________________________ Craig Canfield counsels teens, adults and couples at our LCC: Paul Qualben site in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. For more information or to set an appointment at one of our nine counseling sites in the metro NY area, call us at 1-800-317-1173.

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