By Jessie Dye
"One can lie about the body, but the body will not lie about itself." Thus spoke a character in the powerful James Baldwin novel, Another Country, a favorite of mine from college. This line keeps coming back to me now that I am facing a health problem that can only be resolved by a greatly modified, low fat, healthy local foods diet (can you believe it?) at the same time as our beautiful Earth is facing a health problem that can only be resolved by human choices. In the spirit of the great series on women's health, I title this blog "Our Planet, Ourselves".
It is so simple; it makes me want to cry. We are made and nurtured by the Creator to live on this good earth; the limits of our bodies are the same as the limits of our world. If we put toxics into the air and water we do the same to our bodies. If we care for our bodies and steward what we have, we support our health and happiness. If we care for the earth, the animals, and each other, our world flourishes with all the good gifts of the Creator. If we do neither, we can hide from ourselves. We can believe the spin of those who want us to consume our lives away; but the earth and our bodies will not lie. We face catastrophe.
So I can go on overindulging and live a painful, foreshortened, medically-invaded and diminished life span (not to put too fine a point on it!). Or I can make the hard choices right now to give up some comfortable indulgences (fat and alcohol) but feel much, much better. If I feel my feelings and grieve my losses, the actual joy of making the changes and identifying my true needs comes flooding in to me. And lo, I actually feel better. The farmer's market calls me and I will indulge in the fabulous fresh fruits and vegetables of the season; this illness is a gift in disguise for me in many ways.
I can't help but think the same applies to our cultural life. Does driving everywhere and buying junk really make us happy? Somehow my own psyche isn't comfortable when I know others are truly suffering from preventable causes, like desertification and systemic poverty. Would not our whole society feel more peace and joy if we truly support the common good? "Me first, at your expense" is not a Christian social teaching I learned, and it feels rotten to boot.
So there it is. I committed to eating a healthy, local, sustainable diet for 3 months and the hand of God reaches down and impels me to do it for the rest of my life. May our leaders commit to sustainable energy and food policies as well as equity for the poor, to be shown by Grace of God that honoring the true needs of our world is the healthier, more joyful way indeed.