From the Rectory March 2021
For my last birthday I received one of those very clever health and fitness watches which tell you all kinds of data you don’t necessarily need to know. I got it specifically with an aim to improve my running and cycling because sometimes it is good to push yourself a bit and try to get fitter. It works to the extent that I can now analyse all kind of statistics about my exercise such as distance, pace, and easily compare to previous efforts. It’s surprising what you notice and learn about yourself and your ability. I still have to find the motivation to exercise: the watch doesn’t do that!
Then I started wearing the watch more. I found I could add a new watch face to it and so it looks more like an ordinary watch and I quite like it. Then I started observing the statistics more frequently. It tells me how many steps I have done each day and what my heart rate has been throughout. It can (apparently) detect when I have been stressed and will even gauge the quality of my sleep if I choose to wear it in bed. The result is that I am paying way more attention to my physical condition than I have previously done which obviously has benefits.
One thing my smart watch will not do is tell me anything about my spiritual life. There’s no data available for time spent in prayer or how close we are feeling to God. It would be intriguing if there was such a device!
Lent is a season when we should pay attention to our spiritual heath and carve out that little extra time to be with God. There isn’t a watch or technological device to help us so we have to use our own conscience and judgement in this. However, all of us can probably decide intuitively how we are doing. A parish I know offered their congregation a ‘spiritual MOT’ during the season of Lent where they could choose to meet with one of the clergy team and have an open conversation about how their spiritual life is doing. There was no judgement given but simply support and advice.
Intuitively we all know those things which are nourishing and helpful in bringing us closer to God. The offer is always there from God who loves us and longs for us to respond to that perpetual genuine, eternal offer of love
Rev Canon Simon Ward
Team Rector, Great Yarmouth Parish
this article also appeared in Parish Life
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