Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Metabolism, Metaphysics, and Mother Teresa

If this seems an odd alliterative strain to you, imagine how I feel with it being an accurate symbol of my life these days. Let's just say that metabolism and metaphysics are intersecting in crucial ways, these days, and recent news of Mother Teresa's doubts during her life have added some definition.

I'll start with the beatified Mother . . . what a relief it was to hear that this selfless and committed woman experienced doubt and desert experiences in her spiritual life. I've had a few of those in recent years - mostly feeling like I'm doing my "40 days" in the desert (with 40 days to be translated as figurative, not inerrantly literal). My metaphysical journey has taken me in search of structure and a more contemplative approach to worship, as well as a broader expression of God's acceptance of ALL of his children, which I found in the Episcopal church. And this was a good place for me, and met a spiritual need at a particular time in my life. But it didn't quench the desert thirst, if you will. I found myself becoming less and less "sure" of everything I thought I knew, and found myself saying - "It doesn't matter if you have all the answers. As long as you are sure of the essential Truth of your faith - the rest becomes 'details.'" And I'm not entirely sure I don't believe that, but it makes for a very shaky foundation on which to build your world view. It seemed like too much contemplation had led to too much uncertainty, and too much avoidance of confrontation and accountability.

On the physical side - I was growing more and more - period. And growing more and more unhappy about it. I seemed to have no will power and an extraordinary number of reasons, "issues" and excuses as to why I wasn't losing weight and maintaining a healthier lifestyle.

Both metaphysically and metabolically, I felt very much a need for re-grounding myself. And the Frau was feeling it, too, I think.

And so we made a trek out of the desert and made a stop at this nice little oasis in our neighborhood at - and I'm not making this up - the American Baptist Church in our town. Our "excuse" was that it would be a nice change of pace for the summer, and our neighbor directs the music there. Imagine our shock as the pastor preached a marvelous sermon on God's welcome inclusivity, and the service was a welcome blend (as much as I hate that word to describe worship) of liturgical structure and contemplation and evangelical freedom of expression. Conversations and e-mails with the pastor and our neighbor (one of the associate pastors) over the weeks that followed seemed to pull me farther and farther away from the desert, and more into a feeling of the true sanctuary of home.

And the more re-grounded I became in my spiritual life, the more I realized it was time to move out of the desert in my physical life as well (although, I had apparently landed in the best-fed desert God ever created). So the Frau and I, with the strong encouragement and support of 2 of our good friends who had recently been through a healthy weight loss program, signed on to learn how to eat right and lose weight. And we have been as faithful to the program as we have to church in the last few months. I had this epiphany in church a week or so ago that it seemed that getting our spiritual life moving in a positive direction had served as a catalyst and support for our physical life, as well.

Now, I don't mean to be premature - we've only been on the weight loss program for 2 weeks, but I've lost 8 pounds and the Frau has lost 10 inches (we are celebrating are successes), and I'm sure we could lose our focus. But I truly don't think that will happen. I've never felt more certain about achieving a goal - my only concern is having the patience to let it happen in the appropriate amount of time.

So . . . metaphysical re-grounding, metabolic retraining, and a symbolic pat on the shoulder from Mother Teresa saying it's ok to go through these kinds of questioning times have all intersected in what I hope is going to be a dynamic re-direction for the last half of my life. And I'll try to keep in mind that the journey is our home. Amen.

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