My senses are coming alive. The warm water pouring over my head is refreshing to my winter-dry skin and hair. Scrubbing, sudsing, rinsing, my hands work through, around, front and back. I become present to the moment.
An attitude of gratitude wells up within me. I can do this seemingly simple task which when you look at it is more complex than first appears. My science-trained mind begins to check off the many steps involved: first, go get a towel; second, get out the shampoo and conditioner; third, adjust the water flow and temperature – and that is just the beginning of what I calculate to be a 14 step regimen.
Yes, I can do this without having to have it done for me as it had been during a previous three month stay in a rehab center.
Other body care processes come to mind then in quick succession. From head to toe each of us needs personal care. As momma cats teach their little ones grooming by their constant licking, we hopefully learn from our parents from the very first “wash behind your ears” and “have you brushed your teeth?”
There are those who, having learned well, center their lives around the washing, waxing, grooming, creaming and polishing of their personal machinery. Their identity rests on externals, but my, those externals are well cared for. Some, sadly, missed those lessons and become social outcasts as result. There are others whose life focus seems to be their mind. They develop their soul through endless reading, philosophical discussions on weighty matters, or politics and government. Here again a neglect of the basics as being trivial and inconsequential will lead to isolation because no one wants to come close, no matter how keen the mind and ideas that arise.
But we are designed to be relational – connected to one another, close. Hence the essential activity of personal body care. As tripartite beings, we need to find a balance in caring for each part. It is no good being so spiritual that you neglect the physical part of you. For to be truly spiritual requires being in fellowship with others, close – and no one will come close to the one who neglects or is unable to do the basic upkeep all bodies require.
About step 12 in my hair washing process, I realize that a true gift of God is the ability to care for oneself top to bottom, crown to foot, and that it is part of our equipping to experience a spiritual life, a life well lived in these temporal bodies. As I towel off, I give thanks to God. “I can do this!”
So come on, world. It’s safe now to come close. Let the relationships flourish!