Holy Trinity – Mind, Body, and Spirit

The Revd Richard Moore, a Self Supporting Minister at St Nicholas, Kenilworth, writes a reflection on the Holy Trinity of mind, body and spirit.

One thing that has never ceased to amaze me in almost five years since being ordained is how many people have a fairly fixed and often quite narrow idea of what a priest should look like. I don’t just mean appearance but character, lifestyle, hobbies and more.

Some folk are intrigued that I ride a motorcycle (a Triumph Bonneville) to work, church, and for pastoral visits. Others are surprised that a priest has a day job, along with my brother I work fulltime running a menswear shop in Kenilworth. Well now I have given them something else to get curious about because I recently joined a weekly calisthenics class. Calisthenics is a form of exercise that uses a person’s body weight as resistance and requires little to no equipment; exercises include hand stands, push-ups, pull-ups on bars and gymnastic rings.

You may ask where does the motivation come from to get involved in your mid-sixties in fairly strenuous exercise. The answer is to be found in the coping mechanisms for surviving the stresses and strains of a combined ministry and busy working life. My ministry within the church as a SSM at St Nicholas Kenilworth has been fairly full-on during an interregnum which has lasted almost two years, and my retail job in Kenilworth town-centre is hands-on five days a week. Church ministry both provides and requires a spiritual dimension to life; as a parish priest I hold the prayers of many along with my own and this spills over into my secular job where I am available and visible to all who walk through the shop door by virtue of my always wearing a collar when behind the counter.

I have always been an active person, cycling and with three dogs, walking a fair bit too. The cycling I had to give up for various reasons and my youngest son, keen rock climber and professional arborist climber suggested calisthenics. The word calisthenics comes from the ancient Greek meaning “beauty” and “strength.” Gymnastics was always a favourite at school so nothing ventured etc, and now I go to the Thursday evening class of Dr Calisthenics in Earlsdon. There is a lot to be said for a physical exercise that requires a fair amount of practice to make even modest gains but is so satisfying when progress is made week by week. From my priestly perspective I believe that our physical bodies matter, our bodies matter to God who sent his Son in human form, the Word made flesh, fully physically embodied. His body suffered on the Cross and he died and rose again. The gospels contain many examples of Jesus healing broken bodies, physical impairment often a metaphor for a lack of belief; or the opposite, of faith acting as the motivation to seek a cure from Jesus. We have half-forgotten that sedentary lives do our bodies few favours and integrating a regular exercise routine is a discipline in itself. I’m not sure if I am more focused spiritually, but certainly stronger physically, and more able to switch off mentally. Also, I’m not convinced about the “beauty” part, it’s a bit late in the day for that, but I am more conscious than ever of this body that God has given me.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made,~
                         your works are wonderful I know that full well. 
  Psalm 139:14

First published on: 7th February 2024
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