Today’s guest blogger is Tom Shumate. He is the chief operating officer at Franciscan Media. Tom and his wife, Carolyn, have six children and they live near Hamilton, Ohio.
A number of years ago I started swimming as a means of exercise. In the beginning, during my swimming, I focused my mind on swimming itself, trying to develop the proper technique or figuring out how fast or far I can go before I could do no more. After I got my routine down, however, I found my mind wondering more and more.
About a year ago I started praying during my swim. After all, I figured my swimming activity may lend itself to a routine not dissimilar to praying my way around the rosary. I thought about what to pray. I tried praying a mental rosary, but I kept getting mixed up as to my place since I still wanted to track the number of laps that I was doing. Then I meditated on the mysteries of the rosary.
Following this type of prayer, I found an immense closeness with God. Looking at the mysteries, I would imagine Jesus and the surroundings he found himself in. When Jesus fell the first time, were there pebbles that lodged themselves in his knees as he hit the ground? What was going through Jesus’ mind as the crowds looked on? When Jesus was praying in the garden, what was his prayer like? Was he in some rapt state with all focus on the Father? Was he pondering the Scriptures for the Father’s words? Jesus died on the cross; how could he love us so much? Did he think of me when he was on the cross?
How amazing. I felt, and still feel, such closeness to God. My swimming meditation started to change me: how I viewed myself, how I related to others. God touched my heart and I wanted to follow him more.
Eventually my swimming prayer included a lot of intercessory prayer. I pray for family, friends, co-workers, people who asked for prayers. I also pray that I would love God above all things, and that I would love others as he desires. All because of the idea I had to pray while I was swimming.
Praying while swimming has also lead to praying while working, praying on the drive home, praying while at the dinner table, even praying while horseback riding. It’s funny and extraordinary how close one can feel to God in just the ordinary things of life.
Image courtesy of Sergey Peterman at Shutterstock.com