Saturday, February 11, 2006

Not that there's anything wrong with that...

I've thought more about yesterday's blog on getting fit fast. I know I came down a little hard on Denise Austin's idea that one can get fit by doing ten and fifteen minute workouts. The truth is that you can get fit by doing lots of short workouts. Every choice to move, stretch, and strengthen the body is a good choice, no matter how long the activity lasts. Walking up the stairs is better than taking the elevator, even if it is just one flight. Doing one set of ten bicep curls is better than doing none at all. Lately when I find myself wasting time in front of the television, I pull out those resistance bands and tighten my triceps. If I'm gonna sit and watch, I may as well sit on the balance ball and challenge my core muscles to keep me upright.

The same is true of spiritual things. I cannot and will not dictate for anyone else the schedule or routine of spiritual exercises that automatically lead to fitness. I am all too familiar with the ebbs and flows of life, the demands of family and friends, and the frequent interruptions in all that I plan and hope for. Parents fall ill and pass away. Friends grow fickle and fade away. The incessant ring of the telephone prevents me from settling into a quiet place of worship, and I must cut my time short in order to meet the demands of the day. Some mornings, I wake up too late, too distracted, or too irritated to concentrate on anything more than making a cup of coffee and reading a single chapter of a book I've been enjoying. On those days, ten minutes of reading, sipping tea, journaling, or even just standing at the kitchen sink, up to my elbows in soapy water, staring out the window into the backyard provide more guidance and focus than all the self-flagellation I engage in over not "having my quiet time." What I must remind myself of is that ten minutes with my head in one hand and a pen in the other racing across the lines of my journal is far better doing nothing at all. On those days, ten minutes are all it takes to get fit.

Ten minutes is a very long time when:
* I am waiting at the security gate and my flight is boarding
* I have something in my eye and can't get it out
* I am standing in the rain waiting for Maya to "do her business"
* The dental hygienist is scraping plaque off my teeth
* The doctor is checking over the newborn baby whisked away from his mother

Ten minutes is a very short time when:
* I am lying in bed at 5:50 AM knowing that the alarm is going to sound at 6
* Steve and the kids are waiting in the car, and I'm in a store trying to choose a gift for someone
* The water around me in the tub smells like eucalyptus, the candles are burning, the music is low, and one of the children insists that I join in a game of Clue
* I settle in at a table at Caribou Coffee with my Turtle Mocha, pull out a good book, my cell phone rings, and I am informed that out-of-town guests are en route to our house. When will I return home and what will we serve them when they arrive? (This happened to me last fall on a Saturday morning.)
* I am trying to finish a blog before taking Kristiana to her final regular season basketball game (Please let her team win this one, Lord!)

Ten minutes of bicep curls. Ten minutes of jumping rope. Ten minutes of singing hymns of the faith. Ten minutes of a walking meditation. Ten minutes of conversation with a distant friend. Ten minutes of love, laughter, and intimacy.

There's nothing wrong with any of that.

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