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Two days ago I bought a bike. Not just any bike… a road bike. I already have a nice tool around town, stuff in a basket, professorish bike. But I have a bad leg, I’m getting older, and I had to move the wrong way with my belt notch. Since I can’t “run” (not that I want to) I’ve decided to give the bike thing a try. A buddy of mine is into biking, and he’s looking for someone to ride with. So, I went to the local bike shop and bought a used road bike. I think it was top of the line twenty years ago but it’s the only one I could afford, especially since I’m not sure I’ll stick with it. Of course I had to get some gear to go with the bike—shorts, helmet, and a tire pump. I guess I’m ready to go. I think about riding bike, about how good it will be for me, and how fit I’ll be in a month or two. Thus far, however, I’m only in the daydreaming stage. I haven’t saddled up yet, and frankly, thinking about actually riding this bike brings dread. I like to read and write so exercise seems like a waste of time. I walk the dog in the morning, but that has an important function to fulfill—my dog needs to poop. Thinking about riding my “new” bike? Seems like a lot of riding around to get nowhere fast. As you can probably tell this is going to go very well.
I teach a class on Spiritual Formation where we discuss things like prayer, scripture reading, and “spiritual” practices. I love to read and teach about these things because I believe they matter. I believe in the power of prayer, in the power of ritual, and I certainly believe it is important to read scripture, not just as an academic exercise, but as an act of love and devotion. But just like getting on my bike I usually have a hard time getting started. I’m guessing spiritual exercise is not that different from physical exercise (I have much more experience with the spiritual exercise—not so much with the physical). Getting started is the hard part, but once you get going you’re glad you did. I tell my students all the time—it’s not about “feeling like it”. Most of the things we do in life are not because we feel like it, but because we know we should. Call it what you want—duty, or “fake it ’till you make it”. I just call it being human. So here’s to taking time to pray and read scripture whether we feel like it or not, and to getting on a bicycle even if it’s to ride it back to the store to try to get your money back.