Excerpt from Let Food Be Thy Gift
Being Healthy Is Being Whole
“Healing is impossible in loneliness; it is the opposite of loneliness. Conviviality is healing. To be healed we must come with all the other creatures to the feast of Creation.”― Wendell Berry, The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays
The absolute worst thing the diet and fitness industry did, besides try to shove health into a marketable formula, was to disconnect us from ourselves and the very practices, people and purpose that we desperately need to live and be healthy.
We have literally bought into the idea that health is a very individual thing and everyone is “different.” The marketing of health as a uniquely individual program has created more chaos and confusion, and helped to produce the epidemics of loneliness, depression, anxiety, diet-related disease and unnatural relationships with food, exercise and our own bodies.
LISTEN TO ME. You don’t need a mindfulness app to use your brain and see that as individual health has plummeted, and so has the health of our relationships, communities and world. Use your brain and think… If the prescription for health makes us fragment, disconnect, isolate, sever our relationships and pull up our bootstraps to go it alone, then our health will fail not just physically but mentally, emotionally, relationally and spiritually.
For anyone to believe in or pay for a personalized health program is absurd. It goes against everything that we are as human beings and everything human beings need to be healthy. Yes, we are all human beings and the very word “health” means “whole.” Our health is not only reflected in all things, but is determined by all things. If health was purely an individual matter, right and choice, then as individuals we would not only need absolute control, power, wisdom and sovereignty over everything, but so would everyone else.
And since all of that is impossible and we are designed to live interdependent, interrelated and interconnected with our world and our neighbor, how could we ever live as we are designed to give hope, truth, love or empathy to help our family, friends, and neighbor, if we are all living in our customized and individualized health formulas?
Health can never entirely be practiced by an individual because it is connected to our daily lives, where we live, the air we breathe, the food we grow and buy, the churches we attend, the schools where we learn and with the people we like, love and even hate. Our very own health foundation is built and continually strengthened in a community where we are known and accepted, grow and develop, fail and succeed, learn and mature. We must remember that we will only be as healthy as our relationships, communities and world because health is not an individual choice, it is living as a whole person as part of a whole community.
It is never too late to remember who we are and how we are designed to be healthy and whole. There is still time for all of us to return to a practice of health that includes all things. To redeem health and restore the practice of health, we must return to the basics of being human, being whole, being holy and being part of the whole creation.
“Community, then, is an indispensable term in any discussion of the connection between people and land. A healthy community is a form that includes all the local things that are connected by the larger, ultimately mysterious form of the Creation. In speaking of community, then, we are speaking of a complex connection not only among human beings or between humans and their homeland but also between human economy and nature, between forest or prairie and field or orchard, and between troublesome creatures and pleasant ones. All neighbors are included.” ― Wendell Berry