I recently had my semi-annual visit to the torture chamber…er, I mean, the dentist’s office, and I’m embarrassed to admit I am practically phobic about dentists. Now, I realize that dental professionals are probably perfectly charming people who only want to help me keep my gums healthy and my teeth shiny. Still, these visits every six months are an ordeal I force myself to undergo from the fear of what horrific treatments I might need in the future, if I neglect this regular maintenance. (Can you say root canal?)
So, there I was on my last visit, stretched out rigidly across the dental chair while the hygienist plunged hand and foot into my gaping maw, scraping away with her hooks and rippers, to eradicate every trace of evil plaque.
To distract myself from this torment, I tried to picture my future in Heaven, where, although dentists may be admitted, they cannot take their tools with them, and I will enjoy eternity with perfect spiritual teeth needing zero maintenance. This delightful vision sustained me right through flossing, polishing, and blessed release.
As I walked away from the dentist’s office, new toothbrush in hand, I was struck by the contrast between the time, effort, and money I’d just spent on maintaining a mere outer shell and the amount I’ve been devoting to nurturing the immortal soul within.
I’m willing to face down my fears and endure pain to keep my pearly whites in good shape, but what am I willing to suffer for my spiritual health?
It’s illogical to give more importance to the temporary than to the permanent…and yet, we are constantly reminded to floss our teeth, exercise, eat right, and to take pills to relieve every symptom of our perishing body’s inevitable expiration. We hear no mention in the media of the soul we will carry into eternity. Advertisements do not proclaim, “For a whiter, brighter soul, pray after every meal,” nor do they ask, “Is your soul flabby and out of shape? Get the Holy Bible and see marked improvement with only four reps per day.”
Ideally, as my body progresses through its unavoidable decline, I will grow stronger spiritually, so on that inescapable day when this mortal shell fails completely, a soul in its prime will step strongly into the presence of God.
[originally October 27, 2013]