44. Maintaining our Health and Creativity
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Jesus came as our healer that we “may have life, and have it abundantly.” We show our lack of faith in him if we diminish that abundance through neglect, or the fear Jesus portrayed in the parable of the man who buried the talent his master had committed to him.
Health of mind, body and spirit is a priceless gift of the Creator which we are to cherish in wonder and thankfulness: “I will thank you because I am marvelously made; your works are wonderful and I know it well.” So that we can better glorify God in our bodies, each of us shall take responsibility for maintaining his health through regular exercise, hygiene and prompt recourse to medical attention as soon as he becomes aware of any significant symptom. Hypochondria and obsessive self-concern, on the other hand, are distortions of this duty and it is our responsibility to call one another to maturity.
If a brother shows signs of disorder in his relation to food, alcohol or any other substance, this becomes the concern of the whole community. The Superior has the responsibility of helping him to set his feet on the path of sobriety, moderation and health. Likewise the compulsion to overwork and other forms of obsessive behavior are signs that freedom is lacking and healing needed.
Each of us has been given the divine spark of creativity and imagination, and as we grow in our conversion to Christ, so should our gratitude and reverence for these gifts. Fear and inertia quench the spirit. Faith in the Giver of all good gifts will lead us to use the opportunities our life provides for developing our creativity and using our imagination. The community shall provide time and resources for hobbies and skillful pursuits so that every brother may find outlets for creativity beyond what his regular work offers. We shall seek to maintain a climate where music and other arts are valued and where the beauty of creation is loved and enjoyed. We shall endeavor to order our stewardship so that vacations can provide not only the opportunity of visiting our families and friends but also of exposure to the beauties of nature, the stimulus of other cultures and enrichment by the arts. Our creativity will thrive on mutual encouragement.
If our endeavor to develop our creativity were in response to a secular ideal of self-realization it would come to nothing. Our stretching toward fullness of life is an act of faith in Christ who is the living Word through whom all things have their being. He is the true light shining through all creation. It is not in religious activity and thought alone that we see his glory, but in all the world. We are called to realize his life-giving presence within our own selves and bodies and share in his ongoing creation.
One of the fruits of staying healthy is the time and capacity to pursue creative endeavors. It is important to allocate time to creative pursuits even if that’s all the time we have. Other work seems to demand that it be done. Creative work needs focus, prioritizing and discipline. It requires reasonably good health and in turn, it promotes it. God has given us the capacity for creativity; it is up to us to choose to use it and to maintain the physical health needed to do it.