Twitter is a strange place.
There are people from all over the world sharing every opinion they’ve ever had, whether good or bad. There is a lot of arguing, but there is also a lot of comradery. One of the reasons I enjoy using that website is because it makes me think about things I would have never thought of if I were only in my own little bubble. Sometimes this looks like me coming to an understanding of a culture that I had previously known very little about. Then other times, it’s a little less serious than that.
Earlier this week, two accounts I follow were discussing bouncy castles! I’ve seen them around, I have jumped in them, but, honestly, I’ve never spent much time thinking about how they work. Have you? It’s just like a big balloon that you jump in, right? Not quite.
The reason the discussion got started was because one woman asked why these bouncy castles had to be constantly inflated. She wanted to know why we couldn’t just inflate them once, seal them, and be good.
That was an excellent question because in my previous minimal thinking about them, that’s what I thought we did! Once she said it, I had flashbacks to childhood school carnivals where there were definitely fans running the entire time to keep air in them, but again, I hadn’t ever thought about it. It’s one of those things that you sort of know, but it’s in the back of your mind and never at the front.
Anyways, the other account replied with a perfectly reasonable answer. Once I started thinking about the physics of it, it sent me on a google rabbit hole to figure out exactly how it all works.
Even though @red10meg said to not quote her on it, she was right!
Bouncy houses work by filling a plastic structure with air. Then when someone jumps on it, that is a force downward, and the air pressure inside the structure acts like a spring loading. Then when you get to the lowest point, the spring is unloaded and the air pressure pushes back on the plastic and the jumper gets sent up into the air. Someone, a long time ago, realized that if the structure were fully sealed then it would inevitably pop. If you’ve ever squeezed a balloon or popped a roll of bubble wrap, then you know why a sealed structure won’t work.
According to Boyle’s law, as you decrease the volume of a gas, the pressure increases. P1V1 = P2V2.
When you squeeze a balloon, you are decreasing the volume of the balloon. This adds more pressure. The containers of the gas can only take a certain amount of pressure before it explodes. The same is true with the bouncy castle. If it were sealed, every bounce on the structure would decrease the volume and increase the pressure. If the structure is highly inflated, this could cause it to pop after having just one or two people jumping on it. If it is less inflated, you would get less bounce, and it might not pop right away, but the pressure would slowly work to weaken the plastic it’s made from until one day it can no longer hold together.
This is why it needs to have a release, AND it needs to be constantly inflated. The release allows for the pressure to subside, the air goes out instead of being pushed together. And the constant inflation allows the structure to remain fully inflated which gives the best bounce. This is achieved through holes being added along their seams so that air can flow out of them, a clever work around.
After learning about why bouncy castles need to be constantly filled, it got me thinking about how our spiritual lives need to be constantly filled.
Being a Christian is a 24/7 job. Hopefully you don’t have people physically bouncing on you, but there will always be ups and downs and pressure on your life that require you to release some of that spiritual energy you had built up.
Imagine if we treated our spiritual lives like a balloon, filling once and calling it good. Let’s say you did this by going to an AMAZING retreat. This is great! But then you’ll leave the retreat and come back to your normal life. When you get there, you have your job and your friends and family. All of these things are asking something from you. All of these are wearing on you and distracting you from your faith. They can be good things in your life, but they all put pressure on you in one way or another. The further you get from that retreat the more that spiritual fervor you had starts to fade. You lose that steam you had and eventually, without some other spiritual filling, you will be completely deflated. There will be nothing to keep you going.
We as Catholics need to be constantly filling ourselves with God’s goodness. We need to be always searching for things to keep our faith life growing. There are so many different resources out there. These days, few of us are able to attend in-person retreats. There are some virtual retreats if you look for them. I personally do not get much out of these. I, like many, am zoomed out. So what else is there?
There are books on the lives of Saints that you can read. I always feel a fire lit in my spiritual life when I hear of the amazing things others have done. I want to better myself to be like them. Here are a few good options: https://blog.franciscanmedia.org/franciscan-spirit/7-books-on-catholic-saints-to-read-in-2020
You can start a small local group with a few close friends with the intent of growing in holiness together. There are plenty of options, but this year I’ve learned of two 90-day programs for men and women.
For men: https://exodus90.com/
For women: https://www.mag90.com/
After reading up on them to see if they’re for you, grab a few friends to do this with you.
Another great option is to go to daily Mass. If you’re not physically able to go due to health restrictions or lack of availability, there are lots of streaming options. Check with your local church OR if they don’t offer this, here is a great website listing services all over the world. There is sure to be some available at the time of day you would like to watch.
My final suggestion is to build a devotion to Jesus through Mary. She is our mother and wants to help us grow closer to her son. The month of October is only a few weeks away and it is often celebrated as the month of Mary. People all over the world choose to pray a daily rosary. This may sound daunting, so let’s start small. Try with a single Hail Mary each day, then build up to a decade of the rosary each day. Then maybe by October you will be talking to your mother for 15-20 minutes daily, asking for her intercession, through praying a full rosary each day. She is eager to help us and this is one of my favorite ways to recharge. If you’ve never prayed the rosary or have forgotten how, here is a helpful website. https://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/prayers-and-devotions/rosaries/how-to-pray-the-rosary
I hope that you can find what works best for you. We are all different, but we all have the same need, to grow in closeness to our Lord.
But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all your works. (Psalm 73:28)