Spirit and Action, Can’t Have One Without the Other

I’ve been reading and contemplating Isaiah 58. Past posts have quoted extensively. One concept has been made clear with this reading–God directly links the spiritual pursuit of Him with ethical actions toward others.

If we think clearly, we remember that Jesus did the same thing. Almost all the time he linked spirit and action.

I devoted years to spiritual pursuit through meditation and contemplation. The goal was to find God. Experience God. And I did. And the experience is fantastic. But all the while I remembered two of my spiritual heroes–St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila. They left us with some supreme spiritual writing and advice. They also worked hard at reforming their religious orders at a time when people began to notice the corruption within the organization of the Catholic Church.

Spirit plus Action.

Last night I was catching up on my podcast queue while driving home from the Chicago area. Caught this TED Talk by Kelly McGonigal. She is a psychologist who studied stress. Once she believed that all stress was bad for you. Then she discovered some research that suggests that stress may only be bad for you if you believe that to be the case. She urges us to see stress as a positive, and introduces us to an unsung mechanism for stress reduction: reaching out to others.

Turns out that by helping others a hormone is released that not only affects the brain to increase your awareness, but also there are receptors in the heart for this hormone (oxytocin) where the hormone actually helps rebuild the heart.

And you can use the two meanings of heart in English–the actual organ and compassion. The effect of oxytocin in the brain is to cause you to want to reach out to others in times of stress–either yours or theirs. When you do that it impacts your own heart positively.

I know that there are many Christians (and people from other religious traditions) who are skeptical of science. But the more I study science and the intricacies of the relationships of all the components of life, the more I am in awe of the God who created everything.

Use your heart to help your heart.

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