Medical science has determined that one cannot separate mental and emotional health from physical well-being. Which one of us hasn't suffered the bodily reaction to stress — felt the heart race when running late to an important meeting at work or experienced an adrenaline surge during a freeway delay?
Feed the soul, not just the body: For me, a part of that is church. When I attend Sunday services, often my soul is refreshed; balance is restored.
I need equilibrium because, ahem, as my daughters will aver, I tend to go a bit overboard on nutritional matters and require intervention. Greens, grains and grams of fat, you name it — I am obsessively checking labels and compulsively reading recent developments in the health journals that fill my e-mail inbox.
My devotion to fiber just might rival religious piety; both girls have resorted to blocking the cereal aisle of the supermarket to prevent my taking more time to peruse ingredients, and I adore the sort of oatmeal cookie most people grimace at.
When on road trips, I pray to find flax seed and oat bran in small towns.
I worship cracked wheat bread that has the consistency of bark — my favorite option is a brand called Ezekiel 4:9. "Take wheat and barley, beans and lentils, millet and spelt; put them in a storage jar and use them to make bread for yourself. You are to eat it during the 390 days you lie on your side."
I don't know about lying down, but I eat two slices every night with dinner — 365 days a year.
It was only natural that when my husband and I moved to Montana, one of my priorities (after I'd found the organic food store) was to locate a Sunday congregational gathering that felt like home.
We shopped around, if that is what you can call looking for the perfect combination of inspiring pastor, serene service and friendly fellowship. Nearly every church we experienced was just fine, but still we persevered in search of the one that would most soothe the soul.
"Did you like the new church?" daughter Kate inquired when I Skyped her last Sunday to discuss the latest cereal combination I'd discovered — three different varieties of Kashi, each boasting high fiber and powerful antioxidants. Any one would do the job, mind you, but by combining them I'd created a monster bowl of bountiful nutrition.
"We've found it!" I announced. "The moment we walked in, it felt like we belonged!" I enthused over the interesting sermon, childhood-familiar format and the friendliness of the congregants.
"But what clinched it for me was communion," I confessed. "It was a huge loaf of really tasty wheat bread, broken into pieces for us to take!"
Kate chuckled, then shot up from the carpet where she'd been doing her exercises while we chatted. "God's gone whole grain!" she declared. Amen, sister.
"Did you get back in line and go up again?" she cleverly considered. No, darn, I told her, I hadn't.
There's always next Sunday. It's important for my health.
Miller, who lives in Huson, Mont., is the author of more than 300 essays and stories that have appeared in such publications as Newsweek, the Los Angeles Times, the Orange County Register, Missoula Living Magazine and the Christian Science Monitor. Her column "High on the Wild" appears in the Pines Literary Journal and her column "Peaks and Valleys" appears in Montana Woman Magazine. She has contributed to National Public Radio's "On Point." Visit her blog at kcmillersoutpost.blogspot.com.
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