It is best not to put the glass of water we're about to drink under the microscope. It is full of life. None of it looks good enough to eat or drink. Putting any of our skin under the same analysis finds again a repulsive array of creepy crawling microorganisms, even with a shower since our water flows full of these same invisible creatures. The same kind of magnifying look at our "innards", especially our digestive track, finds we are all alive with life not our own! The urge to scream might be felt by all of us.
The term "benign bacteria" seems like a contradiction. Just the thought of (let alone seeing) alien life on and in us, is grossly repugnant. Yet a pure antiseptic world would kill us. Oddly enough, we all need lots of these little critters to maintain our health; and yes, they find their life and health by abiding in us as well. It is hard to imagine this kind of interdependency.
However, health experts tell us we are also swimming in bacteria, - “bugs - crawlers - microbes" - some of which are harmful, some even deadly. Our health professionals during the cold-flu season keep directing, “wash your hands"! So, the threat of invading "bad bugs" is also our daily experience. Keeping ourselves "clean" is often the major defense.
Before soap and running water the life experience of all our ancestors was far from "getting clean", as we might think of clean today. Infrequent and ineffective bathing along with no deodorant, created a normal "BO" that everyone shared. Being able to identify each other by smell was a truism throughout the history of humankind. For all centuries everyone exchanged a normal/natural/yet unique body odor. Young and old lovers were excited by the smell of each other. In developed countries today deodorants and perfumes mask body odor; therein losing a natural, God-given, erotic stimulus.
On the non-physical level - spiritual/psychological - it is much the same. We're all crawling with imperfections, uniquely identifying our personal traits. Further, as not having the ability to see the good and bad bacteria (crawlers) in others, so it is futile trying to judge one another as good or evil. However, a micro-analysis assessing our own spiritual worth is a critical need, done only with serious introspection – examination of conscience - seeing our true self as our Judge sees us – no window dressing.
It takes time and effort to discover our true crawlers and true colors.
The Rev. John Burkhart Ph.D, is a retired Episcopal priest and retired professor of psychology. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.