“Good for the body is the work of the body, good for the soul the work of the soul, and good for either the work of the other.” ~Henry David Thoreau
I am struck once again by the magnitude of abuse the human body can take and recover from. Bruises and cuts, broken bones and viral invasions are all suffered mightily and then the damage is repaired. There is often a scar or other testament to the painful blows but the body goes on. We have adapted our lives to having diminished abilities, using crutches and wheelchairs, eyeglasses and portable oxygen tanks. Digestion and respiration continue in the face of incapacities in mobility or loss of limbs or eyesight or hearing or speech. Our brain function continues so that we can make calculations and have social interactions. Often there are prolonged recovery times during which our bodies automatically marshal energy to heal wounds and restore balance within, completely invisible to us and those who care for us.
It is difficult to envision what must be occurring on a cellular level inside the body. I look at Bubba and know that his internal organs are bruised and swollen and stitches are dissolving as scar tissue builds up around new pathways forged by the surgeon inside his stomach and small intestine. The three layers of abdominal muscle tissue that were scored by the scalpel are held together with tight sutures and strain against them each time he coughs or yawns or twists or grunts. I can only see the thin red line that traverses his flesh and dips into his belly button. I imagine the blood flowing through his veins and arteries, carrying a healing tonic to the wounds and gradually patching the defects without knowing why. There is some comfort in knowing at least the mechanics of this healing process and I can trust that it is occurring even without seeing it.
I know, from experience, that the soul also endures a multitude of cruelties, but the process of recovery is not one I can envision. We also learn to adapt to the soul’s flaws in our every day lives, but I think we are perhaps not quite as kind to those who suffer these as we are toward those with bodily disabilities. It is possible to heal the wounds one’s soul suffers, but there is no pharmaceutical solution and, it seems, no conventional wisdom as to how one ought to best go about this recovery. I think that the repair of one’s soul may well be as individual as the character of the soul, and I, for one, have certainly struggled with finding the most effective manner in which to do this.