Friday, May 27, 2011

spiritual exercise anyone?

We all know how important exercise is for our health.  A little know fact is that clergy folk are notorious for being some of the least healthy folks around.  For this reason many denominations are promoting healthier lifestyles.  Last summer at the Iowa United Methodist Annual Conference I signed up for a pedometer and the conference health activity (interestingly called Virgin Health Miles).  Since the end of June, 2010 I have taken 1,171,798 steps (averaging about 3,900 steps/day).  I have some colleagues across Iowa who have done lots better - way to go!  

Of course I know that to be healthier I need to up this to atleast 7,000 steps a day.  But geesh, that means I have to carve out time to exercise more...and be more disciplined about self care (frankly this is not one of my strong suits).

The same could, of course, be said about our spiritual life.  If we don't devote some time each and every day to our faith journey we have a tendency to get - well for lack of a better word - spiritually flabby.  I have been better in this area.  I pray the Divine Hours 2-3 times each day, am reading lots and am so very blessed by  my participation in small groups and conversations with both colleagues and folks here in the church and community.

Just this week Trinity United Methodist Church has launched something that I think combines the best of both spiritual and physical exercise.  Thanks to Lynn Montague, a Trinity member and retired art teacher, we now have a prayer labyrinth mowed into the green space between the church and Casey's.  The cool thing is that its 1000 feet long (about 600 steps 'round trip' on the pedometer!).  

Nestled under a trio of pine trees the prayer labyrinth is a wonderful spiritual practice that dates back to the middle ages.  The prayer walker is invited to follow the twisting and turning path that ultimately leads to a central space and then return the way one came to the exit.  I have found that as I move toward the center I pray for myself and my family and those things that are on my mind.  Then, as I stand in the center spot I pray the Lord's Prayer and on my way out I focus on the needs of others, the world and the Church universal.

We will have some more information, prayer guides, etc. posted alongside the labyrinth to help guide those interested in giving it a try.   I look forward to sharing it with our youth during VBS as well as our summer bible study group.  

If you are interested in walking the labyrinth and want someone to join you, just stop in the church office and I would love to walk along with you.  The great thing is that everyone who walks the prayer labyrinth has their own experience with God.  No special rules, no requirements, just a willingness to give this ancient/future form of spiritual exercise a try.  

Peace, love in Christ,