Saturday, February 26, 2022

The Treadmill in the Bedroom

My pastor began his homily on that Saturday morning by telling a story: of the night before, when a friend texted, asking for decorating advice as he worked on the bedroom that he shared with his wife. My pastor looked at the photos his friend sent and texted back: The treadmill has got to go. Even when his friend replied that, oh, my wife really wants it there, my pastor was adamant: Get the treadmill out of the bedroom.

He told us this story because in the Gospel reading that day, Christ urged the disciples to “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while” (Mk 6:31). Rest, my pastor pointed out, is important. Time after time in the Scriptures, Jesus goes to a secluded place to pray and rest. Our pastor mentioned that if we have a treadmill in the bedroom, it can interfere with the rest and prayer that we need—because a large, visible symbol of what we “could be doing” (exercise, losing weight, etc.) is not conducive to a restful atmosphere.

That’s a good point, I thought, but we don’t have a treadmill in the bedroom, and I do a pretty good job keeping our space clutter-free so we can rest and recharge. I inwardly puffed myself up, happy that I apparently was winning at life (insert eyeroll here). 

However, as the day went on, I kept thinking about my pastor’s words—and reconsidered my view.   

The night before, when we had sat in our bedroom to pray, my mind and heart had been anywhere
but that peaceful, reflective time with my husband. Yes, I was happy to enjoy a quiet moment of prayer with him, but as soon as the Missal and Bible were put aside, once “Amen” was spoken, I launched into my whole list of “things I need to do” and “things I want to do.” I had not truly been living in the present moment and been fully present to God or my husband. Instead, I had been intently focused on my whole pile of daily concerns (all of which didn’t actually have to be done right at that moment).

Now, after a full day of thinking about my pastor’s homily and the words of Scripture, I realized that I DID have a treadmill in the bedroom—it just wasn’t taking up physical space.

All of the various concerns, and random thoughts that preoccupied my mind were keeping me from true rest and peace just as much as the sight of a bulky treadmill would. Focusing on all of these other things that I could be doing was pushing me away from the present moment, away from this nightly time of relaxation and prayer with God and my husband. So, I decided to get the treadmill out of the bedroom.

I’m finding this is much easier said than done, but finishing up the major tasks around the house—and dumping any others onto various days on the calendar—is making it much easier to step into prayer time with greater peace. Leaving any other preoccupations with my “to do” list at the bedroom doorway is freeing. This chunk of time is set apart for prayer and rest, and everything else can wait.

It's hard to move a big treadmill, especially if you’re used to leaving it in a particular spot. However, slowly moving that mental treadmill out of my bedroom—inch by inch and little by little—is well worth the effort.

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