Saturday, February 28, 2009

Mortification at the Gym

Have you noticed a theme to the last few posts? Of course, if you don’t visit daily, then this would probably be the first of the series that you read. Whether you believe it or not, it wasn’t planned that way. It just kinda happened.

After professing my distaste for the self-flagellating kind of voluntary mortification, I have to admit that there is one form of it in which I engage. It’s something I call . . . running.

For some unknown reason, I have misleading memories about my running past. I seem to remember hitting the pavement as being liberating. There are times when I’ll be walking down an alley or a trail, and I’ll get the urge to run, as if I can bound through endless miles with long strides. When I try to do it, however, I’m quickly brought back to reality. Usually before I’ve even covered half a mile, I’m offering my self-induced suffering up to God on behalf of my children or the students in my confirmation class.

I don’t run because I want to suffer. I run for other reasons. The suffering is a side-effect that I try to put to good spiritual use.

There are other things, besides the suffering that accompanies the cardio portion of my workout that I find I can offer up this Lent. There are the annoyances in the weight room from other people who don’t return their weights to the rack. When a bar is loaded with weights, I typically have to assume the bar is in use by somebody super-setting the exercise with another exercise, unless I’m the only one in the weight room. I could just get really annoyed, but in the spirit of the season, I patiently made do with what was available and returned my weights to the rack when I was finished. Another practice that I suspect that I’m the only one engaging in is the praying of an Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be between each set.

So maybe I am stretching the definition of mortification just a bit, but if I can’t exercise while I pray, at least I can pray while I exercise.

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