The benefit of practicing the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius in this 30 week retreat format is learning how to Savor the Graces of the week. This is the same kind of practice, or a similar practice to Spiritual Direction wherein you look for the ways God is working in your life, in this moment. Sometimes it is hard to see either because we’re not looking or not seeing/hearing, there may be something or someone standing in the way of us seeing what God is doing. I’m thinking here of the Balaam’s donkey, who would not move because the Angel of God continued to block Balaam’s path, and Balaam could not see the Angel. If you would like to read more about this road rage incident, click on the link and start at verse 22.
Over the last several weeks a level of frustration has built up in my mind and heart. You know, sometimes we eat our feelings because food is comforting and good and sometimes we need time to ponder what’s going on in our life and this is one way we accomplish this. Lets, for the sake of this particular blog post, there’s been a bit of this eating of feelings of late. This time of year doesn’t help as it is nearly winter (tomorrow if memory serves, it’s been overcast of late, and December has two close deaths in the family, today is one. The frustration though is associated with going to the gym, the getting physically healthy of it all. I’ve understood, for quite some time, that this had the potential to become completely disordered in some way. Much of this had to do with the thoughts rattling around inside my head about doing more and pushing, not quite the regular, “you can do this” thoughts but more along the line of, “you’re not doing enough.” Yeah that. The same happens sometimes in the prayer life, I’m not doing enough. And perhaps in both in some way there is a deep-seated need to do more.
So here’s where the frustration has entered. It didn’t seem as though my body is both losing the weight and toning up as much as I thought it should be. Long story short I talked with the ladies at the gym today about my membership. For some reason I thought I started in April or May. Nope, end of June. Why does this matter, even a little bit? Well for one thing I thought I’d been at this getting healthy thing a lot longer. Well, at least longer anyway, where six to eight weeks longer does make a difference. Six months is good, and just beyond the beginning of the journey to get physically healthy. When I heard the date I started, June 25, I was a bit stunned and had the realization that I’m doing really well. Looking at the photo of the screen on the elliptical that day in 37 minutes I walked 2252 steps which works out to be about a mile. I can walk 4 miles, or a little over, in an hour. Or like today a little over 2 miles in 30 minutes.
Just like the reflection that is part of both Spiritual Direction and the Spiritual Exercises I am incredibly grateful to have a moment to review and take notice of how much has changed. I’m also reminded that I’m fitting in pants that have been too tight to wear for quite a while and my favorite skorts no longer fit. When I went to the doctor in November (annual stuff) I was delighted at my weight knowing what it was at the beginning of February when we started this getting healthy.
Patience there is a need on my part to exercise this with myself and with others. There are times, like with the “I should be a lot healthier and fitter by now” wherein my lack of patience shows in all its frustrating lack. Part of the clarity on my part with this, loving myself looks a lot like exercising patience while I go through this journey. The kind of patience I hope to instill in my students who are new at free motion quilting. It’s going to be a hot mess. This health journey, spiritual and physical, is going to be a bit of a mess and I’m here for it.
In this moment I’m going to savor the grace of knowing and understanding the need for patience on my part.
I’m off to enjoy the final few days of Advent and the beginning of Christmas.