My Body is Not the Destination
By Joe Kelly
Ever heard the notion that the body is the temple of the soul? My church taught that idea when we were young, as a way to encourage us to treat our bodies with respect.
Our teachers also taught us to treat our church building with respect. That’s no surprise—have you ever heard of a faith community that did not treat its place of worship with respect (whether an ornate temple; massive megachurch; or rickety structure hand-build with found materials)?
But, even as kids, no one ever told us that the Supreme Being we were worshiping was the same thing as the building where we worshiped. We’d be hard pressed to find a person of faith who thinks that the Spirit, Being, or Deity she calls Allah, the Creator, God, Buddha, or Yahweh is indistinguishable from the structure or location where she joins others to worship.
The same thing holds true for the relationship between our own spirits and our own bodies, whether ornate, massive, rickety, or any other shape.
The temple metaphor reminds me that my body carries my spirit, personality, and potential in the world.
My body also carries that spirit around in the world—my body is a vehicle. This miraculous vehicle has the ways and means (voice, mind, affection, caring, spirit, humor, determination, creativity, emotions, strength, physicality, etc.) that allow me to connect with and be useful to myself, other people, and things greater than myself.
My body is the vehicle for life and life purpose. I’m grateful for this vehicle and have good reason to treat it well. But while acknowledging what this vehicle is and can be, I find it equally important to remember those early lessons about both bodies and temples.
A place of worship can be a lovely vehicle to facilitate our journey toward deeper relationships with a Higher Power, one another, and our purpose in the world. But we don’t confuse the place of worship with the goal of worship.
In a similar way, while my body is my life’s vehicle, it is not my life’s road. It is not the journey. It is not the destination.