It was the hottest day of the summer in Chesapeake, Va., and throughout the area of Hampton Roads. I am certain that there were heat warnings on that day discouraging unnecessary time outside. My family was away, and I was determined to surprise my wife with an area outside where we could sit, relax, and pray. I was inspired by the pictures of prayer groves and other similar outdoor seating areas. Now would be the time to inform you that I am as handy as Edward Scissorhands working as a clown making balloon animals.
I saw an advertisement for concrete pavers 35 minutes away, for free. The advertisement read “A TON OF PAVERS FOR FREE.” Without hesitation, I reached out and said I am on my way to get them. I saw concrete pavers as part of the pictures, and knew this was a no-brainer. So I jumped in my black Honda Civic Coupe to collect my free stuff.
When I arrived, I told the man that I was here for my pavers. In which he replied, “Is someone else coming?” I looked surprised and taken aback by the comment. Why would someone else be with me?, I said to myself. “No, sir,” I said. To his second question, “Is that your transportation?,” I replied, “Yes, sir.” He immediately called his friend, who called his mother and I was told to repeat why I am there. “I am here to pick up the pavers, in my Honda Civic Coupe.” They collectively laughed and said, “No you ain’t! We said a TON!” Then it dawned on me, not a metaphorical ton, but pretty close to an actual ton. But I am prideful, and when they said, “No you ain’t,” I heard, “No, you can’t!,” and no one but God limits me. So I moved all 66, 2-inch thick pavers into my car. I rolled out of that drive way to an audience. On the highway, I was going blazing speeds of 20 mph and that was my being lead footed. An hour-and -half later, I arrived home and I unloaded these pavers and started working. I got about a quarter done and decided to celebrate my 25 percent accomplishment by chugging a mountain dew and going to the Chinese buffet. Well, that day my car died, and my body was in critical condition, as I experienced extreme dehydration. Just as my car was showing signs of failure, so was my body, but I ignored both. What happens when we ignore signs that our soul needs attention?
God is very intentional in His creative genius. If you look at the Genesis account, you will see that each day has a design and purpose. The beginning of Sacred Scripture starts with the words, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void” (Gen 1:1-2).
If you notice, He created everything in twos because there were two distinct darknesses: “without form” (formless) and “void.” He created light into two: day and night. God creates the firmament and divides water to above it and below it. God creates earth and sea, then plants yielding seed and fruit. From this point forward in creation, God starts to assign purpose to those things, and who/what is to have dominion over those things, i.e. day and night to track time, and ruled by Sun and Moon, etc.
Scientifically, if you look at the Earth and the details of its design, you will find exact details that make Earth the only sustainable planet for complex organisms. Our distance from the sun, our axis, rotation speed, and even placement in our Solar System make it impossible for this to be all by chance. All this to say that God was extremely detailed and intentional in His creation.
Therefore, the way we were designed follows the same pattern. We are both body and soul. The body has crucial systems within it and each complex in its own right: integumentary, musculoskeletal, respiratory, circulatory, digestive, excretory, nervous, endocrine, and the reproductive system. Our body gives critical signs when one or more of those systems need attention, as simple as a drop of sweat or as complex as skin changing in color and texture.
If signs are present in our biology, then surely signs are present when our soul needs work.
St. Augustine said, “Take care of your body as if you were going to live forever; and take care of your soul as if you were going to die tomorrow.” Your soul starts to have warning signs for care when: sin seems more and more appeasing, others seem more and more annoying, your society and community becomes more and more negative. And once those signs get ignored, then it gets critical when you have no room for a neighbor and you turn on yourself with negative talk, self-hate, self-loathing, etc.
Our whole self, body and soul, is designed with a great purpose. And we ought to be attentive to the signs that can damage it. My car showed signs early, when my car all of sudden became a low-rider, then showed more signs when my foot was all the way down and only going 20 mph. My body started showing signs when I was profusely sweating and then stopped sweating.
Our bodies alone will not get us to eternity, but they can show the world the beauty of God’s creative genius. However, our souls are the vehicle that will drive us to our eternal resting place. If we beat up our soul and neglect it or rely on it to carry the excess weight of anxiety, fear, worry, etc, or the spiritual malnourishment of sin, then that wear, and tear can and will damage your vehicle to heaven.
Anchor columnist Oscar Rivera Jr., is director of Youth Ministry in the diocesan Secretariat for the New Evangelization. firstname.lastname@example.org