I have a lot of time to kill (pardon the pun!), so I have been exercising more than I usually do while I’m here at Bagram, waiting to fly home. I’m not alone – the gym is usually crowded at almost any hour of the day or night.
Exercise is a big part of Army life. Sometimes it’s organized, but usually it’s up to the individual Soldier to keep in shape. In fact, it’s an expectation. Soldiers will use their free time to run or work out. Combat units, especially, will work out almost daily if they’re not in the field or on a mission – that’s because combat is strenuous, and conditioning matters; it may be life-saving.
Disney Drive is over a mile long from one end of the base to the other, and in the early morning, it is closed to traffic, to allow runners to have a track to use. In the morning, I have been running, along with hundreds of others – Koreans running in formation, Air Force and Army PT uniforms, Navy personnel, all going up and down Disney Drive, sweating away, staying in shape. For my part, I run a couple miles, then cool down with a walk and some stretching.
At night, I go to the gym and lift weights. I have come to the conclusion I will never get as “big” as the body-builders, so I concentrate on keeping strong. I work on my stomach muscles and my arms for about 30 to 40 minutes, then go for a long walk.
I’m not planning on doing much exercise while I’m at home, so I’m building up now so I won’t be completely out of shape when I have to return. Sometimes when I run, I think of St. Paul’s admonition that while physical fitness is of some benefit, godliness is of great gain. I certainly don’t think God minds me keeping in shape, but I think I understand Paul’s concern – our own body can become an idol, and we can get caught up in vanity, deceiving ourselves by thinking we are better than others because we are in better shape.
I have to remember I am lucky to have the chance to exercise regularly!
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The Rev. Charles P. Henderson is a Presbyterian minister and
Executive Director of CrossCurrents.
He is the author of God and Science (John Knox Press, 1986).
A revised and expanded version of the book is appearing here. God and Science (Hypertext Edition,
He is also editor of a new book, featuring articles by world class scientists and theologians, and illustrating the leading views on the relationship between science and religion: Faith, Science and the Future (CrossCurrents Press, 2007).
Charles also tracks the boundry between the virtual and the real at his blog: Next World Design, focusing on the mediation of art, science and spirituality in the metaverse.