Friday, October 26, 2012

Health matters

There was an article in Christian Century magazine this month on clergy health. It reported on a major new study of minister's health habits or lack thereof. Seems we clergy are an unhealthy bunch. We have more health problems than the average person the study found. In the study, some ministers were put on a strict regimen of diet and exercise and, not surprisingly, they improved over the year they were observed. I am familiar with the primary stresses associated with ministry. But, it seems like every job has it's unique bundle of stresses. Some professions are more proactive in dealing with them than others. The clergy are not one of them. It's not hard to tell that most Americans are stuck in unhealthy patterns of living. Our contemporary way of life is unhealthy in so many ways. We are too busy; we don't get enough rest; we eat too much; we eat too much of the wrong stuff; we sit too much; we don't exercise and we spend way too much time on our devices instead of with other people. This is all documented and it pertains to the clergy and most everyone else.

There was an interesting article in the NY Times this week about a Greek American who had lived in the US since around 1950. He married a Greek American woman and lived in Florida. In his 60's he was diagnosed with lung cancer and told he had nine months to live. Rather than an aggressive chemo treatment he chose to go back to the Greek island, Ikaria, where he grew up. He and his wife moved into his parent's small cottage. He went to bed and waited to die. Yet, he didn't. He got up most days and walked a bit and breathed in the fresh ocean air. His old friends came by during the day and visited. He got up when he felt like it and napped every day. He ate local vegetables and drank local wine. He re-discovered his Greek Orthodox faith. Soon, he was feeling stronger and revived the family vineyard and planted a garden. He walked more and more up and down the hills of his island village. He went out with friends and played dominoes at night. That was over 30 years ago. Today, he is 97. A few years ago he visited the US to talk to his doctors and ask them why they thought his cancer was gone. He couldn't find them; they all had died.