“You just need a little more self care,” she said.
The grey of everything pushes colourless across life. Grey hair, grey lockdown zone where I live, grey atmosphere drizzling down and my fifty something face feeling grey.
Okay, so maybe some red on my lips, brown on my locks and heaven help us some revitalizing cream to help with these tired lines.
I look her in the eye and say “Let’s do it!” We dash out the door and hit the store just in time, grabbing a fairly random box of dark brown, 2 minutes before they closed.
Well you know… plans can go awry, colors can look one way in a photo and when applied to salt and pepper hair it can turn out a whole other blend, especially when it’s rubbed in thoroughly and left for extra time. We gasp a bit at the outcome, me a whole bunch. A dark, almost black-with-auburn tinged head looks back at me from the mirror. Oh dear. We laugh and take pics and I’m wondering how long it will take to wash this out.
Covid hair. Covid care. I look into these surprised eyes in the mirror. Tired eyes. Care worn and not enough sleep eyes. Not how I’m hoping to look in these mid fifty days. Thinking there’s someone in there who needs more attention than the external tending will accomplish. It’s a tenuous balance. We mind our outsides, catering to the endless badgering of the fountain of youth advocates. Wrinkle reducing creams, dyes, ever changing hair styles and stylish wear to make us remember that 50 is the new 40. Mercy! What happened to ‘act your age’? No, it’s all about not growing up, never maturing, always alluring and captivating.
Captive is what’s happening to yet another generation of gorgeous girls of all ages, sizes, cultures and colours. Buying the enticing lie that the shell we inhabit is the sum of our sumptuous being. We paint, perk and pant after the unreachable, airbrushed, baby faced images, taunting us into the unending race to immortality. But it’s all found in a bottle, a tube, a tub, and when the last dab has been scraped out, we’re still gazing into the mirror at our own face. Happy or sad. Old or youthful, we are in our fading, aging, ground bound bodies. It’s inevitable.
Self care? Absolutely! If I stop tending this tent and slouch around grimy and gritty I have to believe some depression has crept in and maybe has to do with caring for only part of my self. The lack of care to the soulish me leaves a wasteland and no amount of attention to the outside will cure the hunger in me.
There’s a yearning, just for someone to look in my eyes and say “I want you just the way you are.” Someone should write a song. Haha. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vBZnGk1nAjw. Don’t we all want that? There’s a craving in us to be wildly, unconditionally accepted and loved. Is it possible that there is Someone who knows us this deeply and wants us this badly? Is it possible we also need to accept ourselves and this is part of soul care?
If my soul is part of my-self then it must need tending as much as my physical being does. And if my physical being is a housing for the spirit part of me then doesn’t that need attention as well? How are we convinced then that the physical is worthy of such a disproportionate amount of attention. Is it possible that in the developed world, we have become dull to the spirit needs as our physical cups are filled to the brim with every possible titillation. Our suffering is minimal due to the plethora of medicines, various doctors and comforts to assuage our ails. Yet the starvation of our souls and spirits, those ethereal inner parts of us withering from lack of connection and sustenance, gradually pushes through into the physical, until our bodies show the effects of the wounded, unattended inner sanctum.
We’re challenged in a world that presses us to fill each moment with frantic activity and distraction. Yet during this time of pause, can we find ways to retreat to the interior and nurture the neglected parts of us? i.e. https://www.24-7prayer.com/ancientprayerrhythms. Daniel prayed three times a day. Jesus got up while it was still dark and spent time with his Father. How do we imagine that we will get by on less? We are starving and the state of our lives and the world that’s made up of the bricks of us shows it.
My daughter who is a university student shared her thoughts with me as she compared the detailed organization of the human cell to structures of the body, earth and human society. I love the parallels she drew about this microcosm. I do my best to explain it here but it blessed like poetry when it fell from her lips:
The cell’s organelles are encased in liquid cytoplasm while the mitochondria and golgi apparatus function within the machine to produce energy and export proteins. Similarly, our bodies have rivers of blood to transport oxygen and a digestive system fuelled by food translating to energy, a heart to pump the life giving river and a brain to dispatch signals to every single part of our body through nerve cells. The earth is an organism made up of life bringing rivers, trees doing the work of lungs and a delicate ecosystem of creatures and plants that all work together within the biosphere to sustain life. Our human systems of family, friendships, church, education, work and government all function due to the unique, individual giftings each of us bring to the whole.
It expands outward and inward. If there’s a drought, the earth is parched, the human body is deprived of water, the cells themselves malfunction and life cannot be sustained. I see a parallel in the soulish world. If the human soul/spirit is deprived of living water, it also cannot survive.
Considering all of this on the grand scale of earthly ecosystems and the minutia of the cell in all its microscopic magnificence, let us examine the human in the trinity of its parts: body, soul, spirit. Each part a necessary, functioning segment of a greater whole, needing the unique sustenance its survival requires. If my body is denied the basic needs required to sustain life: air, food, water, sleep; it will die. If my soul is denied love; it will die. If my spirit is denied connection with and food from the Spirit it came from; it will die.
Maslow summed these up in his detailed “hierarchy of needs.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow%27s_hierarchy_of_needs#/media/File:Maslow’s_Hierarchy_of_Needs2.svg“. May I suggest that wrapping the spiritual element around his triangle as a membrane in which all the other functions are met and maximized, would bring true potential through the life giving river surrounding and feeding into all the other components.
Within this model, self care takes on a new dimension. We become complete, lacking nothing “holding fast to the Head, from Whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God.” Colossians 2:19*
Disclaimer: This is in no way meant to criticize anyone who enjoys caring for themselves through the use of make up or hair colour. We’re all different and that makes it all the more fun. These are just some thoughts on the idea of self care and the depths of it.
*Poetic licence taken with this verse as it’s actually written about people who do not do what is described, but the meaning in reverse is still the same.