April 22, 2018

Walking out from church this afternoon, my husband pointed over to the brilliant red blooms and commented on how amazing that tree was right now. Our local friend replied, “Yes, that’s the frangipani, right?” directing his query to me. Rather pleased at being considered an authority in the subject, I nodded confidently. “Yep,” I said, and then proceeded to correct my husband’s mispronounced repetition of the word ;-) Peter then asked our friend about the pods that he had seen on the same tree. “I wonder if they are edible?” he asked. Mr. K shook his head, “No, no – not edible?” With a chuckle, I explained to him that, for my husband and I, the most important question concerning any plant is whether it can be harvested. Peter chimed in, “Yes: can we eat it? is the crucial question!” Continuing this train of thought, however, I then added that, for me, another question is whether or not I can put it on my skin (thinking of the Shea nut trees that we harvest for butter). “It’s all about the body,” I joked—but added that I was quite serious. I then explained that it’s all about the body for me; but this does not necessarily make me overly body-focused. Because if you think about it, you realize that the brain—and consequently intellect—is a part of the whole. So caring for the physical body actually means caring for the whole self . . . spiritual as well, considering God’s mandate to care for all of Creation, ourselves included.
This interaction was a timely one, as right after church I went to study this week’s Psychology class for my seminary studies, on Emotion and Motivation. I loved considering all the ways in which the body and mind work together, so that our emotional reactions are oftentimes inseparable from our physical states.
The most striking takeaway for me, however, came with the idea of what makes for happiness in our emotional life. The mention of the state of mind that creates a sense of well-being, transcending material wealth, cultural setting, and life circumstances, came with a convicting force. This message has been coming with a sort of insistence lately: various people I have listened to on podcasts, in my community, and in books, have mentioned this theme of what makes for a contented life. What I have been musing on, in the midst of it, is how truly blessed I am. I am a gifted whiner and complainer, noticing all the little details that aren’t quite up to par in my surroundings. But when it comes down to it, I have everything I need in order to live a fulfilled life.
Later in the day, my husband and I went out for our afternoon walk. “You know,” I mentioned, when a woman raises her arm, it’s a non-verbal cue. She’s not just needing to, for instance, fix her hair . . . it’s sort of a come-hither action.” I raised my hand in the air and turned towards him. “See—you were a goner from the moment you saw this armpit.” He leaned over and took a long and dramatic whiff. “Yep. You’re right!”

*Update: turns out, thanks to a questioning of my tree naming from another local-tree-knowledgeable soul combined with a closer look this week, it is not a frangipani but a flamboyant. This time hubby snapped a photo, to capture the full, er, flamboyance, of the blooms :-)