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4/30/2013 8:58:00 AM
Exercise, prayer belong together
Catholic Sentinel photo by Ed Langlois
Lynda and Scott Olsen run in Tryon Creek State Park.
Catholic Sentinel photo by Ed Langlois
Lynda and Scott Olsen run in Tryon Creek State Park.
Ed Langlois
Of the Catholic Sentinel

LAKE OSWEGO — Lynda Olsen, 42, holds a master’s degree in theology from Mount Angel Seminary. She also runs two or three times per week and exercises at home and in a gym. It has occurred to Olsen that the big breaths from exercise and the deep breathing of prayer are linked. After all, the Hebrew word for breath, ruah, is also the word for spirit.

She recalls her days as a student at La Salle Prep, when Father Francis Chun would teach meditation and say that the intellect is fortified by deep breathing.

Olsen and husband Scott have made exercise part of their life. It helps feed their spirits, they report. An earlier generation might have seen such effort as self-indulgent or too focused on the body. For Olsen, dualism is out; keeping a healthy body is part of caring for God’s gift of life.

Without exercise, Olsen says she would have a “more clouded mind.” The activity, she explains, makes her more open to the work of the Holy Spirit and more enthused about carrying out her mission as a spouse, mother and friend.

Often, exercise is a communal endeavor for the Olsens. They run with friends and with each other. The couple includes 8-year-old daughter Morgan in activities, often taking her to a park or the high school track to run, kick a soccer ball or play catch. Morgan is a second grader at St. John Fisher School.

Working out can also be a time of solitude. Olsen sometimes brings spiritual reading to the gym’s treadmill.  

“Exercise and prayer go hand in hand,” she says.

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