img_0531“Are you still hiking, Fr. Jeff?”

Confession time. The answer is “not as much.” While I certainly love to get up on the Pine Mountain Trail, I’ve allowed my calendar to overtake my hiking time. I used to start my Monday mornings with a 2-3 hour hike, but since adding Grey to the family, adding Bronwyn to school, and adding Katie to the staff, these hikes have become few and far between. Having an administrative assistant has been a tremendous help, so I find that having her allows more time in visiting people, and sometimes Monday mornings work better for folks. That’s not a complaint by any means, as this has only enhanced my ministry at St. Nicholas, but it does change my frequency of hiking.

I’m not totally absent of lacing up my hiking boots, though. Last year, Andy Butzon and I started walking on the walking trail over by the Hamilton soccer fields. I find that this is much more doable in my life at this point. I can drop the kids off at school, and head over to the trail for a 30 minute walk before my day starts. I’m actually doing it 3 times a week now, and I find it’s a great way to start the day. Even when I’m by myself, I can pray the Daily Office (there’s an app for that!) or listen to a podcast, or just enjoy the quiet. I’m always open for folks to join me, so feel free to show up at 8:00am on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, or Thursdays.

My spiritual director recently helped me when I was feeling guilty about my lack of hiking and exercise. She said, “Remember that this is just a season of your life where you have young children and a busy, growing church that demand your time more than they always will.” She encouraged me to think of ways to insert exercise that work with my schedule and to be free to change what doesn’t work.

I tend to think that I have to find the one best practice to make my life find a healthy rhythm. However, the truth is that there are a million best practices that I can use throughout my life depending on my circumstances. The trick is to explore and find what best suits this season.

As we hit the middle of Lent, and our disciplines of fasting, prayer, and service tend to wane a bit, remember that it’s OK to change up the routine from time to time and find a new routine that better suits the season. We can give ourselves permission to stretch and grow and not beat ourselves up over the “rules” we impose upon ourselves. There’s no one way to do things.