I know this might be a stretch, but indulge me. We all probably know the Gospel story of the ill man who sat for years at the pool of Bethesda (John 5:1-15). When Jesus came into the scene, he went up to the man and asked him a simple question, “do you want to be well?” Now, one would have thought he would immediately respond, “yes!”, but he didn’t. Instead, he gave his excuses as to why he never received his cure. Jesus could have challenged those excuses, but he didn’t. Instead, he called the man to “rise, take up your mat, and walk.” The man did just that.
As I was praying about this passage, I recalled the fact that so many people dealing with chronic illness could lessen or reverse the negative affects of these life-limiting diseases if they made changes to their diet and exercise routines. When we watch the news about the current pandemic sweeping the world, we’re told that so many people who are passing away have underlying health issues. As a person who has such health issues, hearing this has caused me to look closely at how I’m taking care of myself. Not just to avoid Covid-19, but checking on all areas of my health. It’s good to do these self care checks from time to time, but especially now.
When I was diagnosed with Type II diabetes ten years ago, I quickly realized I needed more exercise. I love nature, and it was spring, so I decided instead of buying a gym membership, I would purchase a good pair of walking shoes, and away I went. At first, just walking around my neighborhood was tough. But with persistence, I began going further and further, feeling better and better each day. It was amazing.
Friends, I know that some may say that with all the “stay at home” orders in place now throughout the country, it’s not a good time to start a new walking routine. I can’t speak for other states, but where I live, walking is permissible, as long as you are by yourself and avoid others.
I love the fact that in his autobiography, St. Ignatius referred to himself as the “pilgrim.” In his day, the vast majority of pilgrims walked to their destination. So, in my mind, tying Ignatian prayer and walking, especially out in nature, would be a great way to getting myself back in shape, both spiritually and physically.
So, as we move into Holy Week, by ourselves and without the opportunity to personally participate in all the rich liturgies of those days, I would like to encourage you to get off your couch and start walking (assuming your doctor has approved). There are some great articles about walking on the internet from places like Harvard, The Mayo Clinic, and the American Diabetes Association to give you ideas and methods to follow. Check them out. Be sure you check with your doctor first before making any changes to your exercise routine.
Friends, remember that simple changes, made consistently over time, can greatly improve all areas of your life. No more excuses. Rise up and get moving. We can use this present crisis as an opportunity to team up with God and get all areas of our lives healthy. Don’t miss this once in a lifetime chance.