By Christopher Cudworth
For those of us who like to attend church, Sunday mornings are usually a question of squeezing in a ride or a run before heading to services. That results in an algebraic response to the morning hours. There is the early service at 8:00, the Praise or casual service at 9:15 and the typical 10:30 formal service where people who don’t like to get up early show up to praise God.
That’s just the Christian format however. Schedules for Jewish or Muslim services take a significantly different form. All religions have their rhythms. Some don’t even discriminate by faith order. They believe all paths lead to God, while atheism contends that no God exists to dictate our actions. All these worldviews still affirm that human beings crave understanding in some form or another. We absorb it one way or another.
It’s not that one does not somehow incorporate aspects of other religions into a worldview. We speak of zen thinking and karma. Those words have become part of the colloquial parlance without being well understood. I know this much: zen takes work and focus.
Karma? Let’s take a look at that for a moment. Just the Wiki version folks. “Karma means action, work or deed; it also refers to the principle of causality where intent and actions of an individual influence the future of that individual. Good intent and good deed contribute to good karma and future happiness, while bad intent and bad deed contribute to bad karma and future suffering. Karma is closely associated with the idea of rebirth in some schools of Asian religions. In these schools, karma in the present affects one’s future in the current life, as well as the nature and quality of future lives – or, one’s saṃsāra.“
Holy smokes there seems to be a close relationship with Christianity in some respects. That whole causality thing for starters. And good or bad actions contributing to the potential for pain and suffering. One realizes that John Lennon’s Instant Karma was again so insightful the catchy tune probably obscured the call to action in which the singer truly believed.
There’s quite a bit of karma at work in the world whether people want to believe it or not. Much of it seems to consist of the “instant” kind in which your actions have immediate consequences. And that makes some sense. The deeper rhythms of the cosmos might take a bit to get rolling your way for good or bad. But the spirit of karma is as wicked or hopeful as the wind.
Always the wind. The Bible speaks of God as a wind roaring and the Holy Spirit whipping around people while depositing little flames above their heads.
How many times have you been running or riding along and thinking you’re feeling so good and moving so fast only to find out when you turn around there is a strong tailwind at your back. Your pride has swelled up and 20 mph on the bike feels like nothing. Your mind plays egotistical tricks on you. “I’m so strong today! I must really be making progress!”
Then you turn on a new road and the wind cuts across your path or turns out to be in your face. Bad karma starts to kick your butt ride away. Pride may goeth before a fall, but it also takes the form of a crosswind or a headwind on a mission to slow you down.
We learn these lessons over and over again. Yet our minds love to deceive us into thinking we are better than we really are or smarter than we think. It seems at times the whole purpose of religion is to put us in our true place in this world. We’re small and inconsequential, prone to pride and puffed up ambitions.
Yet religion has another purpose as well. That is salvation in all its forms. In that regard there is so much common ground between faith and endurance sports. 2 Timothy 7 reads like this: I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
There is little more you need to know about life than having a bit of perseverance in the face of adversity. Set a goal and do the work to complete it. Keep faith in the idea that the work you do is worth it. Have pride but don’t be too proud about it all.
That’s a pretty good life philosophy for people of any faith. Throw in a little meditation, prayer or attenuation and you’ll capture the moments you were meant to experience.
Ride on. Run on. Have faith in yourself. Or something greater.