The term “wellness” has become popular in recent decades. It has become a synonym for good health, physical wellbeing and other related expressions. This issue of Let’s Talk takes a look at wellness—what it is and what it means in the spiritual realm as well as the physical realm.
According to Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, the word “wellness” means “the quality or state of being in good health esp. as an actively sought goal, as in ‘wellness clinics’ or ‘lifestyles that promote wellness’”.
Wellness came into popular usage as Baby Boomers developed health consciousness and had the money and time to make physical fitness an ideal, if not an idol. The word “wellness” caught on. Health professionals saw the opportunity to promote a holistic (another word created for the times) concept of health, and developed educational and practical programs that focus on disease prevention.
In the context of this publication, wellness has an even deeper meaning. Here the central meaning of wellness is closely related to the heart of God’s redemptive work in Jesus Christ, calling creation back to God and wholeness. God created the world in wellness. This original wellness was lost through the fall of humanity into sin, plunging the world into a new reality—the reality of un-wellness, of sickness in mind, body and soul.
Our writers bring insight into this human condition of un-wellness and offer suggestions of ways that wellness might be restored.
Father Benedict Auer, a Benedictine monk and a poet, writes in his article, ‘“I Never Looked Up’: Wellness and Spirituality,” that most people muddle through life with eyes cast down and feet plodding forward, ignoring the resources which are available through “looking up.” Auer offers the understanding that a deepening spirituality is one way to walk with God in a state of wellness. This walk includes a balanced life, moments of silence and solitude, and often a spiritual guide or friend.
The article by Rev. Jenny Bogard, former pastor of Holy Apostles’ Lutheran Church in Hickory Hills and now on leave from call, in her article “Did Noah Get Arthritis?” asks the question, “What is wellness?” If Jesus had not told the paralytic in chapter two of Mark to get up and walk, would the man still have been healed? Pastor Bogard suffers from a chronic disease which often debilitates her, forcing her to rely on a wheelchair.
In “Health, Healing and the Congregation” Rev. Roger Crum discusses the important role of healing stories and worship, particularly the “The Service of the Word for Healing,” in promoting wellness within congregations.
How God’s love, expressed through friends and family, heals even the overwhelming grief felt in the loss of a beloved spouse is addressed in the article, “Wholeness After Loss,” by Rev. Beverly Conway, Pastor of Bethel Lutheran Church, Englewood, Chicago.
Sarah Lea Holstrom, a parish nurse at Savior’s Lutheran Church in Naperville, writes that parish nurses serve the church, the neighborhood and the community by bringing a proactive approach to disease prevention, wellness and wholeness.
We hope you will find some nourishment in this smorgasbord of offerings, meant to enhance your own wellness.