Shirin McArthur

prayerful pondering

Stretching

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Most mornings I begin my day with what I call “stretches.” As a child, I watched my father do morning exercises, and the importance of keeping my body limber and strong has stayed with me through the years. The discipline required to actually do them has ebbed and flowed over the years, but at this point I would say I do them 13 days out of 14.

I have two routines, one based on a combination of yoga poses and core strengthening exercises, the other still firmly grounded in the Canadian Air Force pamphlet that was my father’s guidebook in my youth. Over the years, however, I’ve also added a number of items to each routine. Sometimes I add something picked up at a yoga retreat, other times something I’ve done when visiting one of the exercise classes taught by my daughter-in-law.DSC_8539 ocotillo bird stretch

However, no matter how much I do, it always seems that there’s more I could be doing. When I was in physical therapy after breaking the fifth metatarsal in my left foot last year, I learned that there were some areas of my body that were not being covered in my existing stretch routines, despite the fact that each routine takes me at least 45 minutes to complete. With “around” 300 “skeletal muscles” in the human body, there’s no way I can care for them all and still have time left for, well, the rest of my life. I must be judicious about what I add to my existing routines.

I believe that the spiritual life is probably not so different. While the routines might not be so explicit, we all develop set patterns for how we live out our spiritual lives—and there are times in our lives when we do not do a lot of stretching. Sometimes, in fact, it takes an accident or major break in our daily patterns (if not our bones!) to help us recognize that we need to stretch something new, spiritually.

I invite you to take some time this week to pray about what might need stretching in your spiritual life. As you go about your daily and weekly spiritual—and physical—routines, be open to what might be missing. And if some “accident” or “crisis” has occurred in your life, pray about it. Ask yourself, and God, whether there’s an invitation hidden within that incident, to stretch your spiritual life just a bit.

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