In a recent conversation, my brother, an internist, expounded on the benefits of regular exercise. My brother would say its the most important thing you can do for yourself. I concurred, while sheepishly confessing how difficult it is for me to make exercise a regular practice in my life. Upon reflection, however, I suggested that from my perspective spiritual practice is most beneficial for well-being. We playfully bantered about our myopic views, driven by our professional biases, knowing, deep down, that there is no need to create an either/or hierarchy between physical exercise and spiritual practice. Our well-being depends upon both.
As a minister, my business is caring for souls. Not in the sense of an immortal part of you that transcends this life, but in the here-and-now sense of your central essence — that ephemeral unique part of you that contains the capacity to love, to feel joy, and to experience suffering. The part of you not contained in any particular place in your body, but infusing mind and body with well-being or dis-ease. In these challenging time we live in, with the now almost daily news of hate crimes, random acts of violence and unprecedented natural disasters, I worry about our tender souls, yours and mine, and what I’d call that of our group body — the soul of the world we live in.
Lately, we’ve been asking ourselves the soulful question: ‘what keeps you hopeful?’ Invariably, the answers swing back to a sense of connectedness — often to this community and family. I know I am routinely uplifted by the generosity, justice-making, attention to beauty and caring of this community. YOU keep me hopeful. And a sense of hope is essential to making it through hard times.
Similarly, I often hear people telling me that they were debating whether to come on Sunday morning — due to their mounting To-Do list, the beautiful weather, a desire to sleep in, you name it. . . . . Once they got over that obstacle, however, they are very glad they showed up. Sunday morning is the heart-beat of congregational life — the central moment of gathering for the community, the time to pause from the daily onslaught of life’s demands, find comfort if you need it, and be inspired to act if that is your need. Each Sunday has its moments of beauty and inspiration, but like physical exercise, it is the practice of regular attendance that yields the resulting sense of greater well-being.
These times demand that we care for ourselves and one another. The weight of the world could easily wear us down. And we need to stay as strong as we can to make it through the challenges before us. My invitation to you is to make Sunday services a practice and see how it informs your sense of hope and well-being.
May you be well,