Thursday, April 7, 2011

Bikini Season for the Spirit

This is the time of year when side-bar internet advertisements flash with “secret” tips to slim down and tone up in time for donning that swimsuit. Gyms, weight-loss programs, and diet supplement distributors are hoping we’ve strayed into caloric and sedentary detours during bundled winter days.

The last time I wore a swimsuit was in September. Then, this last week, we had a gorgeously balmy day. I borrowed my friend’s book by Watchman Nee and sat by her pool. The book was Releasing the Spirit, and it managed—in just one hundred pages—to put the entire spirit-soul-body connection in perfect perspective. As I read that progress comes when the soul and body have yielded to the spirit, I drifted into the lovely sunlight-between-the-fibers-of-my-hat land.

When I lived in the tropics, I wore a swimsuit every day. I even kept one in the car so that I could pop to the beach from wherever I was. There was none of the spring surprise at what cold winter had paled and densed because winter near the equator is still dang hot (I didn’t use hot water in my shower ‘til the trade winds of January). When I was faced with the reality of myself daily, I easily kept my physical life in balance: jog on the beach, one helping of sushi.

Temperate winters are sneaky. All of a sudden it’s January, and my body craves almond butter and sharp cheddar. With no need to wear a bikini, I can forget the importance of discipline. At least, I used to. After those two island years, something shifted: I liked that I was always ready to go to the beach. And so here on the mainland, far, far away, (and far away from a warm, turquoise sea), I still keep a swim suit and sarong in a little bag in my car. Who knows when someone will suggest a jaunt to the hot springs or offer a spontaneous vacation to the Maldives?

But now the bigger challenge: I want my spirit to be even more prepared than my soul, let alone my body. I’m getting ready to finish my second year at a school of supernatural ministry. Soon, I will get to see whether I have set into place the discipline required for the bikini season of the spirit—awkward metaphor and all.