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Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit


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The Lenten Discipline of Flossing Your Teeth

By Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

The forty day warm-up for Holy Week and the Easter season is known as Lent, an ancient word for ‘spring’.  Some people have not heard of Lent, but know about Mardi Gras, which in English is Fat Tuesday.  Certain places like New Orleans and Rio are famous for celebrating Mardi Gras.  The original purpose of Mardi Gras was to consume all the luxuries like eggs by making pancakes, so that Lent could be a time of balance and moderation.

Similar to how people go in training for an upcoming marathon, Lent is spiritual training for Easter.  For things in life to be really enjoyed, it usually takes preparation and anticipation.  So what does Lent have to do with flossing one’s teeth?  There are six Lenten disciplines that help people prepare for Easter: 1) Prayer 2) Fasting 3)Self-examination 4) Repentance 5) Bible-reading 6) Generosity to the poor.  These six Lenten disciplines are not meant to be done only during Lent, but rather especially through Lent.  If one only flosses one’s teeth for forty days of the year, their dentist will not be pleased. The purpose of doing something for forty days in a row is to develop new good habits, whether one is going to the gym or changing one’s diet.

Many people believe that prayer is a good thing.  Lots of Canadians pray when they are in crisis. But prayer is most effective when it is done daily, in season and out of season, just like with flossing one’s teeth.  For many years, I had a mental block about flossing my teeth.  I didn’t like how my gums would bleed afterwards.  To impress my dentist, I compromised by flossing just before my dental appointments.  As dentists can tell the difference, I am sure that my half-hearted flossing impressed no one.  Only when I adopted flossing as a daily discipline did my gums stop bleeding, and my dental care improve.  Years later, I now floss religiously, first thing in the morning.  My teeth don’t feel right until I have flossed.

If I had waited until I was in the mood for flossing, I would still be avoiding the discipline of flossing.  That is why I am calling flossing a Lenten discipline.  Flossing gets me in shape, just like prayer, fasting, self-examination, repentance, bible-reading and generosity to the poor.  I don’t always feel like doing any of them, but I become a healthier person when I discipline myself in these patterns.  How many people realize that fasting, while initially uncomfortable, can be a key to major spiritual breakthrough?  A while ago I wrote about BJ McHugh, an eighty-seven year old marathoner.  She tells me that she doesn’t always feel like getting up in the morning and going for a run.  Because she disciplines her body, she was able to recently run in the Hawaii Marathon with her son and granddaughter.  God wants to renew our youth like an eagle, but we need to co-operate by practicing healthy daily discipline.

Self-examination is another vital Lenten discipline.  It is so easy to deceive ourselves that everything is okay.  Self-examination shows us where we need to change, perhaps by cutting back on the carbs or by getting out walking on a daily basis. Repentance is about facing the facts about one’s self, the good, the bad and the ugly, and being willing to make systemic painful changes.  Perhaps there is someone that we need to forgive whom we have been holding a grudge against.  Lent is a good time to reconcile with that person and perhaps even make amends.  Everyone believes in forgiveness until it comes time to do it.  Forgiveness is a painful part of repentance.

Bible-reading is another vital Lenten discipline.  Most Canadians have a bible somewhere in their home, perhaps handed down from their parents or given to them by the Gideon’s.  Most Canadians have floss somewhere in their house.  Only when we start using the floss, only when we start reading our bibles does anything change.  I was raised in a generation that believed that if it feels good, you do it.  If I wait until I am in the mood for flossing or bible-reading, my gums will recede and my bible will stay dusty.  Discipline saves us from the folly of good intentions.

Canadians are some of the most generous people on earth.  Our Judeo-Christian heritage encourages people to be cheerful givers, knowing that it is more blessed to give than to receive.  Only the generous are really satisfied with their lives.  The more greedy we are, the more grumpy we become.  Don’t wait until you are in the mood to be generous to the poor.  Don’t wait until you are in the mood to floss your teeth.  My prayer for those reading this Lenten article is that we might grow in generosity, in prayerfulness, in bible-reading in ways that will make us all more healthy.

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin

-an article previously published in the Deep Cove Crier/North Shore News

for better for worse-Click to check out our newest marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

 

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form.  Dr. JI Packer wrote the foreword, saying “I heartily commend what he has written.” The book focuses on strengthening a new generation of healthy leaders. Drawing on examples from Titus’ healthy leadership in the pirate island of Crete, it shows how we can embrace a holistically healthy life.

In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook. It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5, Canada.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ED HIRD, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 


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Down in the Mouth in Deep Cove

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird 

For the past thirty years, I was a monthly columnist in the Deep Cove Crier.  I was always praying about some topic that people can really get their teeth into.

Sitting in a Deep Cove dental chair gave me time to reflect on my next article. As the dental hygienist was scraping and pulling and prodding, I began to reflect on the significance and priority of our teeth.  Teeth are unforgiving. You either look after them carefully, or they strike back in all kinds of unpleasant ways.  Just talk to your friends who have had a failed root-canal operation.   Even in these days of hi-tech painkillers, toothaches still ache.

I have been literally sitting in Deep Cove dental chairs for thirty years.  Every six months or so, I received the obligatory call from Dr. Mangat’s dental office.  I thank God for a good dental plan!  Dr. Mangat told me that one of the things that attracted him to relocate to the Cove is that ‘village’ sense that still exists in our community.

The term ‘down in the mouth’ means to be low in spirits, downcast, or depressed.  A number of North Shore residents report feeling more depressed during the winter because of all the rain. There is a perception out there that dentists suffer more from depression and even suicide.  In chatting with my dentist Dr. Mangat, he told me that the higher dental suicide issue is likely a myth.  Roger E. Alexander, D.D.S., of the Baylor College of Dentistry, recently examined this stereotype. Alexander found data suggesting that female dentists may be more vulnerable to suicide, but unearthed no evidence that dentists take their own lives with greater frequency than the general population. “What we know about suicide in dentistry is based on weak data from the early 1970s, involving mostly white males” says Alexander, who called for additional research in the Journal of the American Dental Association.  My sense is that there is a lot of pressure on dentists as they not only have to be technically competent, but also very skilled at running small businesses.

For the last sixty-three years of my life, I have been fighting the good fight, dentally speaking. My parents spent thousands of dollars on dental surgery and braces for me. I remember when a bully at Oak Park knocked me off my Peugeot bike and proceeded to stomp on my head with his boots.  Having no idea what he was upset about, I naively said: “Can we talk about this?”  When he grunted “no”, I realized that I was in serious trouble.  I was about to either lose face emotionally or lose face literally, which would mean that my multi-thousand dollar smile was about to disappear.  Being more afraid of my parent’s wrath over my braces than of the bully, I jumped on my Pugeot and rode off. This was one of the wisest dental decisions that I ever made, especially as I heard later that this bully later had his teeth kicked in and a broken beer bottle twisted in his face.

As a teenager, I felt very embarrassed by my braces, and later by my retainer which made it hard to communicate.  My math teacher in Grade 10 actually thought that I was swearing at her when I was only answering a math question while wearing my retainer.  She was not pleased!  You may have notice that teenage peers can be ruthless in their affectionate terms for those who are dentally-challenged: brace face, metal mouth, tinsel teeth, etc.    But three decades late, I am so grateful for the investment my parents made in me. Dentures just don’t compare to one’s own genuine teeth.

I used to hate flossing.  Gradually I began to grudgingly admit the need.  My thought of a helpful compromise was to only floss on the day that I went to the dentist. As I sat in the dentist’s office with bleeding gums, my compromise somehow did not impress them.  I am now a passionate flosser who tries to convert other people to the ‘redemptive’ benefits of removing plaque.  It occurred to me recently that many people view flossing and going to the dentist similarly to the idea of attending church.  They may acknowledge that it might be good for them, but it is certainly not something to which they are looking forward.  There are too many painful memories or alternately fear of the unknown.  Many young people nowadays, unlike the baby-boomers or seniors, have never been to a church service once in their life.

Dentists want to make a difference in other people. Many are inspired by the Golden Rule.  There is spirituality to dentistry that potentially involves the whole person, body, mind and spirit.  My prayer is that we may all show that same love to each other so that none of us will remain down in the mouth.

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin

-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier/North Shore News

-award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada

for better for worse-Click to check out our newest marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

 

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook.

It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook ), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, #102-15168 19th Ave, Surrey, BC V4A 0A5.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #102-15168 19th Ave, Surrey, BC V4A 0A5.

For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca