Burt Bacharach had a popular song titled, “A House Is Not A Home.”
Scripture readings talk about houses with many rooms – a good metaphor for our lives.
We all have a house. I don’t mean the structure we live in, I mean the structure that is our body. Our bodies: “a house of prayer,” our bodies: “a dwelling place,” our bodies: “built on a strong foundation,” with a lot of cemented faith thrown in.
How can we make our bodies (I mean our “houses”) “homes.” Home is that comfy place where newspapers can remain on the floor, some dirty dishes still in the kitchen sink and a bed that’s not always made. (Wait! Am I talking about my “home” or yours?!)
Being in healthcare all these years, I’ve always made fun of the advertising slogan of a union between “mind, body, and spirit.” It looks great on a poster but, let’s get real – how can you unify three so different forces: two from the earth and one from heaven.
The house of our bodies is no longer a house when a possible union like that takes place – that house becomes a home where God is welcomed and dwells.
The mind thinks that it’s the strongest when the mind is truly the least of the three elements. The mind is a mere pebble thrown into an ocean of body and spirit. You can try to “will away” all you want but how much control can the mind have over years of an aging body? The mind is that grade school bully that tries to impress everyone with brute strength during the day but who probably knits a sweater at night.
The body has a mind of its own. “Run to the store for me, please,” says a mom to her to her twelve-year-old daughter, and she does run – there and back. Nowadays, I don’t like walking to my car!
The spirit? That’s the tricky part of this equation because the spirit is inspiration, imagination, wonder – both wile and wild. You capture it for a moment and in a moment’s next, it’s gone. But spirit remains within you because it is, like the Blessed Mother, “full of grace.”
I pooh-poohed the union of mind, body, and spirit until it’s now happening to me these past few months. Since I lost my job or rather my job lost me – midday, most days, my hands start to twitch and I’ll feel my heart racing…and I’m sitting down!
I looked online, as only a savvy, tech person would do, and looked up “panic attack” and “anxiety attack.” There I found a wonderful article that’s proven my disunion of the three was wrong.
The article said that many times the mind is telling the body to gear up because something or someone is about to attack you so the body needs to get ready and energize itself to prepare for the fight. So, the body complies. No attack arrives but I’m left with shaky hands thinking a heart attack is next. (Then I start to think in my tiny mind, what songs do I want to be sung at my funeral, who’s going to preach, and if they dare put a roman collar on my dead body…)
The article calmly tells me to breathe in slowly through my nose and count to fifteen. Then, slowly exhale through my nose. “Do this as many times as necessary” until your body disarms itself. It worked. And, it is working.
So my supposed strong-armed bully of a mind gives wrong information to my listening body which falsely reacts while my spirit is choosing songs for my funeral.
My body, once only my house – now becomes my home.
Burt’s song sings, “A chair is still a chair even when there’s no one sitting there but a chair is not a house and a house is not a home” until the spirit tells the mini mind to KISS (“Keep it simple, stupid”). Then, both my spirit and my mind informs my body that our faith journey throughout life ain’t no “house,” it’s a “home;” for it’s the place where God lives and dwells.
Books by Fr. Joe Jagodensky, SDS.
Available at Amazon.com:
“Soulful Muse,” reflections on the Catholic Church and American culture
“Living Faith’s Mysteries,” reflection on the Christian seasons of
Advent, Christmas/Lent, Easter
“Spiritual Wonderings and Wanderings,” reflections on the Catholic Church and American culture