03 March 2009
First Appeared in March 2009 Redeemer Newsletter
I started running two years ago as part of a new year resolution to get in shape. At first, I could only run about seven minutes at a time; then I’d have to walk. After a while, I built up my endurance and got in shape, and now I run 3-5 miles, and would do more if I had the time.
In these last two years, running has gone from being a resolution to a way of life for me. It has become an indispensable part of my week. It gives me a feeling of well-being, clarity, and precious time to myself. What once was pure drudgery has become a great gift in my life.
This winter, I have continued running through the ice, snow, and freezing temperatures.·However, I have been sticking closer to home, running around the church neighborhood of North Woburn.· In these last few months I have noticed yet another change in my running.
My running has turned into a kind of prayer.
On Van Norden Street: I pray for Stanley Sandgren and his recovery from heart surgery.
On School Street: I pray for Connie Oberle and relief from her chronic health issues
On Rumford Park Road: I remember with thanksgiving Harold and Betty Foster
On Mishuwaum Road: I pray for their daughter Cindy Shaughnessy and her family in their grief
On Middle Street: When I pass the Kennedy Middle School I pray for children and teachers
In Woodbrook Cemetery: I remember our members that we have buried there.· In the veterans section I feel a prayer of gratitude for the way they gave their lives for others
On Eaton Street: I pray for Vinny and Pat as they raise three teenage girls.· They are my heroes.
On Brentwood Road: I pray for our church plumber, Ken Schultz
In Forest Park: I give thanks for trees, trails, and the beauty of creation
Much to my surprise and delight, my afternoon runs have been transformed into something sacred and holy.· It has literally become a running prayer with God.
In our conversations about parenting and spirituality last month, we were posed this question:·“What are some small and repetitive tasks that you would like to transform into prayer?” We easily named all the mundane and repetitive tasks we do as parents – the dishes and the laundry being chief among them.· However, it was more difficult to see how we could make them into a prayer.
In·Parenting: A Sacred Path, Patience Robbins writes, “Preparing meals, doing dishes, washing laundry, organizing and cleaning could all be acts of love if they were done with intention.· The endless chores that sapped my time and energy could be sacraments.· …all we do can be an expression of love, of a soft and willing heart.”
In my own experience of running, the prayerfulness emerges when I really look at what is going on around me – when I am truly present – and I open my heart to it.· And the repetition helps.· Running these roads day after day after day reminds me to pray.· It has its own liturgical rhythm to it.
I wonder: what are the mundane and repetitive tasks in your life?· And how might you turn transform them into a prayer?· What are the ways you are already praying?· If you need some help getting started, I suggest you start with just paying attention.· Once you open your eyes, then open your heart to what you see and hear, and, without forcing it, let your prayer emerge.
I invite you to share your thoughts and reflections on this question of turning the everyday activities into prayer in the comments.