I woke up last Sunday morning, and before leaving to meet friends for breakfast wrote the following on the chalk board that hangs in our kitchen:
Go swimming x1+
Go running x1+
Thou Shalt Not:
Drink wine during the week
Eat more chocolate than is reasonable
I do not know quite why Sunday was the day to make these resolutions. It is not as if I have been wandering around for weeks thinking about it. It just happened.
Of course, I am happy with these plans and am trying to keep them. I had fallen into some bad habits since starting my new job in September. I often leave the house very early and do not return until fairly late in the evening. This can leave me sleepy, which is fine, but more dangerously, it can leave me lazy. I am disinclined to get up and go and exercise and inclined to pour a large glass of wine and watch the telly. Over a long period of time, even in a job where I walk around all day, this has left me less fit and healthy than I should be.
One of the more diverse aspects of my job is to help pupils train to take the Duke of Edinburgh award. Often this means teaching them to read a map or put up a tent; I stand on hillsides in the rain and check them as they pass by, put the kettle on and arrange the campfire. In a few weeks, however, I have to go and do some training myself. I'll have to hike in the Peak District for three days, and make a timed expedition up Snowdon. It occurs to me that to do this I'll need to be quite fit.
Of course, I am in good health and reasonably strong. I just haven't put it to the test lately. My new regime is going to help me do that, in a leisurely kind of way.
Today, after getting stuck in the most horrendous traffic jam and almost packing the whole idea in, I jumped into a beautiful outdoor pool near my home in Oxford. I was so glad I did. The water was warm, and as the rain began to fall (this is England in May), I luxuriated in swimming gently up and down, using my not so elegant, slightly improvised breast stroke. It was bliss, the sun was shining and the rain was falling. The sky was blue....and there were ominous black clouds (again, this is England). I met people I haven't seen in a year. The pool only opens in May. We laughed and joked with each other, 'where have you been all winter?' All the stresses and strains of the day floated away. After half an hour I was done, and I felt totally chilled out. As I stood under a warm shower looking up at the blue black sky and shampooed my hair I reflected, 'I have been teaching students about the difference between real and apparent goods all this time and been duped myself!' My "I am too tired to go out' attitude to evenings has left me seeking the apparent good of the sofa and avoiding the real good of looking after body and soul by taking some exercise!
This summer most of my holiday plans involve doing free stuff outside so it would be good to keep up my new promises to self, gain more confidence in my body and feel healthy and happy. Wild swims, hikes, picnics, cycles, bonfires, camps in the woods and trampolines here I come!! :-)
Maybe you think this all has nothing to do with any of the things this blog is about, but well, looking after my body and soul is an important part of my faith. The least I can do to thank God for the life I have is love it a little :-) This week, on Thursday or Sunday the church will celebrate the Feast of the Ascension: the day on which Jesus rose body and soul into heaven, and queue for us as Christians to treat our own bodies, and those of others with gentleness and reverence.