I found myself at the local Y not once but twice today (only once to work out – long story). I love gyms but the Y in particular because of the variety of people I encounter. As I did my tedious time on the elliptical because the treadmills were all taken, I people watched, making up back stories for each person who came, offering a good wish for what I thought they might need based on their gait, their physique, their chosen form of exercise… you know, all the accurate measures of anyone’s soul. It occurred to me as I did this that it would be easy to think that we all were there working for the same thing: fitness. And that assumption might lead one to imagine that our yearnings were similar, if not in the global sense then at least for the moments that we were sharing that overheated space. But if I followed my imagined back stories for my fellow travelers at the Y, I realized even that would be a mistake. Though the same staff and equipment were meeting our needs, though we were sharing the space on the same day and time, our strivings were in fact for many things deeper than weight loss or heart health, physical strength or beach bodies.
Today’s prayer is for all the hidden strivings we express in very similar ways, for the channeling of our needs for love, for sanity, for endurance, for strength and forbearance, for release of anxiety and for integrity of being, into activities that on the surface look so simple (if not easy): weights, treadmills, spin bikes, circuit training and swimming pools. For all of the unseen, unspoken struggles we share as we sweat and grunt and groan, as we listen to iPods and chat with companions, may there be ears to hear and eyes to see our earnest work for relief. May our strivings not go unnoticed, in this life or beyond. May we find the deeper realms of wellness we dream of, and that we all deserve.