If you have lived in different regions of the country, or nations of the world, you have likely observed, even at an unconscious level, that geography – or location, some might say “land” – often impacts spirituality. In other words, we are often shaped and formed, even spiritually, by where we live. The landscape becomes an influence on how we perceive life, interpret the Creator, and participate in our own spiritual identity.
We hear about this influence of land or region with respect to other aspects of life. For example, who among us Americans is not familiar with the political moniker of “red” states and “blue” states? This way of describing political affiliation with a more conservative (red) or progressive (blue) political identity has been in vogue for decades now. Today we are even hearing about “purple” states! If pressed, we could most likely color in our own map – a simplified paint by numbers exercise – of where these states are located.
Another influence of geographic location might be correlated to one’s pace of life. Those who inhabit a more urban landscape with its busy streets, bustling congestion and condensed population are typically more likely to associate with a faster pace to living. Interpersonal greetings between unfamiliar “strangers” can be rare in these locales. “Keep your eyes down and go!”, seems the norm. Whereas those in a more rural part of the country may find affinity with a less hectic pace. And to not return a “hello” or “good morning” would simply be considered rude.
In 2013 I took up road cycling as a means of exercise. Living in a community blessed with a growing public trail system and bike lanes on several city streets, this is a method of exercise that I enjoy. I quickly learned that having the right equipment can enhance the cycling experience. This includes having a good helmet, a well working bike, and the right pedals and shoes. The pedals you want are the kind where your shoes “clip in” keeping your feet from slipping off, and giving you a secure connection where you are “one with the bike”. “Efficiency, power, confidence, control and freedom” are all listed reasons one would consider being “clipped in”.
I took some time over my lunch hour today to mind my mind. That is, I engaged in some mental health behavior. For me that equated to going for a bicycle ride. I didn’t go far, but it was good to be outdoors, take part in one of my favorite forms of physical exercise, and improve my mental outlook as well. There’s nothing quite like the solitude of a wind in your face bike ride to provide time for prayer and unwinding of the mental pretzels you’ve created in your thinking. Perhaps you have a different means of minding your mind. Whatever it is, now is an important time to practice it.
I took up road cycling a few years ago and truly enjoy this form of exercise. I try to work in two to three rides a week as my schedule permits. Cycling gets me moving, and away from what can at times be a sedentary work life. I find it physically challenging and mentally rewarding. In addition to the cardio and muscular-skeletal benefits of cycling, it’s amazing what a 20 to 30-mile ride can do for one’s mental and spiritual health. Which brings me to the topic of this blog post. Prayer has become a companion practice to my routine of cycling.
Five years ago I was given a bicycle by my family for Father’s Day. I began to explore our city’s public trail system and found that I enjoyed this form of exercise. Five years, two bike upgrades and a lot of miles later, my mental health is better and I’m in much better physical shape. I gradually began to push myself to take longer rides, leave the People Trail for county roads, and learn more about road cycling. In time the challenge of attempting a century ride began to creep into my thinking.
A century ride is a cycling ride of 100 miles or more completed within 12 hours, and is considered something of a rite of passage in the world of recreational cycling. Think marathon for a runner. While not at all impossible, attempting such a feat does require some preparation and training – which, in turn, takes time. So, blessed with a Sabbatical this summer, and the time to train, I set a bucket list goal of completing my first (and quite possibly only) century ride. Continue reading