I am doing pretty good in terms of physical fitness; I do exercises for my back almost daily; I get my heart beating on the treadmill and workout with machines at a health club a few times a week; I do yoga and ski occasionally, and bike and hike in the summer, but for some reason I am reluctant to get help for my efforts.
The health club I attend has a lot of trainers; they even have a big sign advertising their services which says, “Winners seek help, Losers hide in the shadows,” but even that shaming hasn’t gotten me to pay up for some training. Most of the members use trainers, including my friend, Carl, who is older and in good shape; he is my inspiration, but I still haven’t followed his example, and signed on for a trainer.
It is not just because of the cost, lethargy, nor the embarrassment of admitting I need help or that I am not in as good a shape as I think I am; part of me just doesn’t want to be so organized. Much of my life is, and I would like to keep some parts disorganized, even though I can see the benefits of training and getting professional help in other parts of my life such as in my profession.
It is my opinion that many people feel this way about religious community and spiritual development; they don’t want to put a lot of effort into them. At my club, I hear proclamations of “results” and “breakthroughs” from those who make physical fitness a priority and organize their efforts. Might not the same happen if we made our spiritual development and religious community priorities?
I am not ready to get help, but might try something new, if one of the trainers invited me to a mini-work-out for free; it could lead to transformation, a “breakthrough.” We are all trainers, and every Sunday (and all through the week) we demonstrate the benefits (love, understanding, commitment) of religious community and spiritual development. As religious liberals we take pride in not being overly organized, but developing our spiritual sides and inviting people to participate in our congregation would be of value for them and for us. This is bring a friend Sunday.
Rev. Stephan Papa