From the Rectory
May 2007

Many of you know, I think, that as a means of keeping physically fit I used to run marathons. Pounding the tarmac for thousands of miles in training over the years, now means that my knees will not allow me to run in that way. O, how I envy those I see running around the parish! My knees are only fit for kneeling now! Perhaps God is having a laugh.

The lot of the Parish Priest is that often they spend a great deal of time sitting or standing; just waiting around. I've often pondered just how many hours over the years I've spent standing in a Church porch - waiting. Consequently several years ago I took to regularly lifting weights, called by some, 'Pumping Iron'. More recently I joined the Golden Ring Amateur Boxing Club at the far end of Waterloo Road. Lys has despaired, as you might imagine. I didn't tell them how old I was in case they told me not to come again! Neither did I tell them that I'm their vicar; the premises are just inside the parish boundary so you could say that in going there I'm making a sort of pastoral visit.

What an interesting group of young athletes I've encountered there, a side of the parish that I had no knowledge of before. What will they think if one day I turn up in my clerical collar, I wonder. Clerical wear and boxing gloves are an odd combination, even I admit to that. All of this to keep my body in trim, and it's not vanity, good health is essential for the rigours of this job. I want to engage fully with life, to do that I need to be emotionally and spiritually fit as well.

The daily offices, Morning and Evening Prayer help with that, and so do you when you come and join me, and of course daily Bible study and spiritual reading play their part. Worshipping with you at Holy Communion and Evensong lifts my spirits, listening to our choir and singing hymns gives me real joy.

If you only look after the body, and ignore the spiritual dimensions to life, it's only half a life, and I want life, and I want it in all its fullness. I like to garden and to paint, and those recreations help me to re-charge my batteries so that I can be about God's business in a fresh and lively way around the parish. 90 minutes working out four times a week keeps my body trim, but it takes two sessions a day, six days a week and three times on Wednesday, to keep me spiritually fit. I cannot do without my 'holy' fix.

As with anything, you have to keep up the practice. We are practicing Christians after all, and practice makes perfect. We will never, at least in this life, attain perfection, but just like my boxing exploits, the endeavour, and the application that hone the skills, can, if you keep at it, give you a real buzz and sense of purpose. Reading the Bible, saying your prayers and being faithful to God is not easy, it never has been, but it will reward you for your efforts, and unlike me, you are never likely to get a black eye for your trouble.

Yours for Christ's sake.