We have put Thanksgiving weekend behind us in America. It can be four days of feasting at the beginning of five more weeks of feasting. Or at least eating more than usual the amount of sugary treats.

The gyms will be full of people at the beginning of January perhaps continuing into the beginning of February. They have struggled into clothes that fit perfectly only a few weeks before and have decided it’s time to get fit and lose weight.

How many men train their bodies and how few train their minds! How feather-brained are the athletes whose muscles and shoulders we admire!

Lucius Annaeus Seneca

Yes, the gyms will be full. The libraries and bookstores not so. And even less those small groups where people can study and train their minds and spirits.

And after reading a few news clips about inane things some of our professional football and basketball stars have uttered recently, I see that 2,000 years have had little impact on the athlete community.

Physical training doesn’t fall into the traditional list of spiritual disciplines. I believe it should be. Movement, flexibility, strength, nutrition—these are part of being as healthy as possible. These give the stamina for study, meditation, service, prayer. Just as I have believed from an early age that education includes the arts and the sciences, the rest of us require both physical and spiritual strength.

For although the body needs many things in order to be strong, yet the mind grows from within, giving to itself nourishment and exercise. Yonder athletes must have copious food, copious drink, copious quantities of oil, and long training besides; but you can acquire virtue without equipment and without expense.

Lucius Annaeus Seneca

Actually, to modify Seneca, we can begin a physical fitness routine just by walking (barring infirmity, of course). And that is free. Books can be found also for free in a library or for the price of an Internet connection. And you can begin now.

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