This last couple weeks, for the first time, I was able to finally get out on my bicycle and take a ride. My evenings have freed up just a bit and so I was able to get on my thin-wheeled racing Trek and make some summer miles again! It’s great to cruise along the Lake Wobegon Trail or the Soo Line Trail, to ride and feel the wind, to see and smell the fresh cut hay fields, and to just enjoy some quiet time alone away from the office for once. The first time I went out this June, when I was only 3 miles into my trail, I noticed my legs getting tired already as I was struggling to maintain an average of just over 12 miles per hour. I thought to myself, “I must be fighting against some wind…” But as I looked around, hmmm…. not a tree or a blade of grass was bent. It was hard to believe I was that much out of shape. I found it hard to imagine that I am usually able to average some 15-16 miles per hour when I am more fit! It just goes to show what being 56 years old will do to you in a short time when you don’t keep some form of physical exercise up. By the time I bicycled some 20 miles that day, needless to say, I could hardly walk. My legs felt like wet noodles, but I knew this was good.
This experience had me so disgusted that after two days, I decided to get back on that bike again. I can’t let this beat me up! So, two days later I pushed myself for another 20 miles and a little more yet. To my surprise, my legs already seemed to be in better shape and this time it took about 10 miles before I started feeling any strain on my legs, a big improvement over last time!
This had me thinking: If our physical body can get weak so easily for lack of exercise and yet recover quite quickly once we start putting it to work again, what about our spiritual soul as well? Like my legs at first, we don’t always realize how spiritually weak we are until we are put to the test. When some hill comes along, we imagine all sorts of things, like blaming it on the wind, when in fact, we just don’t have what it takes in us! That’s why it’s so important to stay spiritually fit by our constant exercise of prayer, penance, and going to Mass time and time again. There is a reason why some religious communities call these things “spiritual exercises.” It’s because our soul needs constant movement and workouts, again and again if we are to keep up with Christ! And, like my second bike ride, which improved my ability greatly in just a short time, if we just get back on the right path, we can spiritually recover quite fast and feel good inside again!
So, my advice this summer as you enjoy the great outdoors and yet balance that with work and all the other activities of your life, don’t let your spiritual life slide. It doesn’t take long to be weakened by all the other demands in our life. Stay fit, stay strong, keep praying and come to Mass throughout the summer months. You’ll feel good about yourself and be in better shape to handle the trail which lies ahead!