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Soul Cycle

Imagine people coming to a place with one goal in mind, but experiencing so much more. Imagine a leader that encourages you and pushes you, and a community that cries and celebrates with you. Imagine moments of transcendence and being swept away by the music. No, this is not church, this is CrossFit and for some millennials and Gen Xers, it is filling some of the gaps that church traditionally filled.

In a fantastic piece by CBC’s Tapestry, Casper ter Kuile, ministry innovation fellow at Harvard Divinity School noted that he found liturgical elements in fitness programs that went well-beyond getting a fit body. “The instructor is not just saying, you know, bike faster or go slower. They’re really asking you reflective, meaning-making questions:

“What do you need to leave behind today?
What do you want to remember?
Who are you riding for?”

This is either a story you find inspiring or it makes you shutter. What brings me hope is that the human soul longs for communion and connection, and for transcendence. Attending my first ever Canucks game, I relished the sense of connection with the fans, all of us moving, cheering and weeping as one body as the game went on.

In both cases, to make these experiences more than just one-offs, we need to have a set of practices that open us to something greater than ourselves. We need to learn to let go of our own desires and to care about others as if they are precious to us. And we are going to need practices that push us to live this way because frankly, we get far more messages about self-preservation than we do about community-building and unconditional love.

For me, these new forms of communities that spring up in the secular business world are green shoots of hope, but they are the beginning, not end of something. They help people experience the idea of moving as one body and caring for each other. The next step though is going beyond the person to the transpersonal. Our soul longs for this and church or Soul Cycle class, it will not be contained by either of these forms. May it be so!


Rhian Walker

Rhian Walker is the Minister of Young Adults and Outreach and brings a love for nurturing the spiritual development of those around her. She is passionate about new expressions of church and believes in the power of spiritual practice and community to transform the suffering in our communities and our world. She has a Masters of Public and Pastoral Leadership from the Vancouver School of Theology, an MA in Philosophy, Religion and Literature from Sussex University and a BA in Philosophy and Creative Writing from UVic. The concept of the open table is at the heart of what she feels is transformative about the United Church along with its commitment to true inclusion. She previously served at the lead minister at the Heartwood Community Café, an LGBTQ social enterprise run by Trinity United, Minister of Outreach and Formation at Lynn Valley United in North Vancouver, and as the Conference Minister for LeaderShift, a professional development program that focuses on the inner and outer skills for leading in the United Church. She is an amateur singer and poet, an average gardener, and is truly, shockingly bad at camping despite growing up on the West Coast. She is married to Brandon Walker and has two young children.

Comments (2)

  1. Thank you Rhian for this Timely piece on connection and community, especially as we are on the move this week to new locations.

  2. Thanks Norma! My thoughts are full of our move and our community, and I am looking forward to seeing how we live out our faith in the coming year.

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