Friday, October 19, 2012

Bring it!

     It happens about weekly, sometimes more than once a week.  I and a bunch of other folks are sweating and breathing with some difficulty from our exertion in studio-cycling class. The instructor has us laboring up a virtual hill.  He tells us that the top of the "hill" is in sight. And he shouts "BRING IT"!  My immediate fatigue-produced responses (sometimes verbalized) range from "What should I do with IT now that I've brought IT?" to "I left IT in my office!"
     Fatigue-produced responses indeed.  For I certainly know what he means; it's just fun to toy with him.  He wants us to bring maximum effort to our workout.  Despite those who say "No Pain, No Gain" or "Feel the burn!" no longer hold sway, there are many of us who feel that if we haven't pooped ourselves out, the workout was somewhat in vain.
      We hear it often enough:  "We want your best effort!"  "Leave nothing in the tank!"  Or Yoda's words to Luke Skywalker, "There is no try, only do."  The implication is, it often seems to me, that anything less than total commitment/expenditure is hardly worth anything. The shadow-side of that, however, is that we may often feel that we have nothing to contribute, let alone give our all.  And so we can sit back and wonder, "Why even try?"
      I'm reminded of an old story I heard somewhere in my youth.  An elderly man, who had been so active early in life, had succumbed to severe physical limitations due to age.  A sense of uselessness descended upon him.  "What good am I now?" he asked his pastor.  The wise counselor responded, "You can pray for all of these people on this list."  Now there are a lot of recent studies on the power of prayer, and I'm not going to go there!  But the pastor pointed out something quite profound:  even when we think we are unable to bring anything to a situation, we've still, most likely, got something left.
      We live in such a competitive environment.  Whether it's athletics, business or education, we feel that we are only worth all of the big "stuff" we bring to a situation (strength!  speed!  number-crunching acumen! clever advertising slogans!  multiple advanced degrees, patents or publications!).  But often, what is needed is something much different.  Perhaps it's a simple phone call.  A kind, or consoling, word in the hall. Maybe a touch on the arm. Maybe it's simply something we all can do:  share an understanding silence.
       Of course, we do have special skills, talents, and gifts that we can also employ.  But the "IT" we all can tap is the deep well of our common humanity.   And given the troubles we face in our world, from fractious political contests to those experiencing financial ruin to those who've just done poorly on an exam, a gentle expression of humanity is probably what is the most needed.
       So, Bring IT!


Chaplain Gary

PS:   "Back it down to 5."  "Boo-yah!"  (Those who have ears, let them hear!)


  1. Gary - Your BRING IT post really hit home. I am just back from an eldercare weekend with my elderly mother and father in AZ. Like the elderly man with many physical limitations in your post, my parents pray "for all the people on the list." I cook, clean, and listen to their stories one weekend a month. These are small tasks, but we BRING IT.

  2. Thanks so much for the comment! We are all stronger, and more capable, than we often believe!