One cold early morning in the middle of winter during World War I, an extraordinary event brought enemies together. It’s known as the Christmas Truce of 1914. It is said that while deep in their trenches, the soldiers heard singing of “Silent Night.” Then in a rare moment, the soldiers put down their rifles, emerged from the lines, and mingled with each other. The event is seen as a miracle, a testament to man’s desire for peace and God’s prevailing presence in our lives.
|Photo courtesy www,ericgould.com|
The story always tugs at my heartstrings because it reminds me of God’s longing for us. In the midst of our busy lives, sometimes it almost feels like going to war, we forget how much God is wanting to fight our battles and give us his peace. The victory is that we can find that peace by praying. We put our weapons of work down, come out of our busy schedule, and pray. For runners and active people, you can achieve that prayerful experience as you do your favorite activity, says Roger Joslin, author of the book “Running the Spiritual Path.” From his book, I compiled a few ways to be able to pray and feel God’s presence as you run.
1. Mother Teresa Run. Look kindly in the eyes of every person you meet and offer a smile. Mother Teresa said that she sees Jesus in the face of every person that she meets. She said that smiling at someone is an action of love. It doesn’t matter who it is, smiling at each other help us learn greater love for each other.
2. Nature Run. Feel your feet when it strikes against the earth. Sense the breeze brushing against your face. Hear the rustling of the leaves on the trees or the scampering of critters when you run by. See the distinct colors of nature around you. Be attuned to the natural elements around you and focus the direct impact on your body. Feel your connection with creation and its Creator.
3. The Prodigal Son Run. In this parable, the prodigal son came to his senses after squandering his father’s wealth. So the son decided to take the road back to his father’s home. “While he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” (Luke 15:17) What a powerful and prayerful visual! As you’re running, when a pressing thought comes to mind, think of a loving and forgiving Father running towards you.
4. The Benedictine Run. The priestly order of the Benedictines practices a life of balance. For the Benedictines, each day must include some time spent in work, some in prayer, some in sacred reading, and some in community building. Joslin, in his book, suggests to divide your run into three parts: First, write a Scripture passage onto a small piece of paper to bring with you and read over the passage a few times before running. Second, recite or even memorize the passage as you run and ponder on the words. And thirdly, keep your eyes open for work or helping activities that may appear – like picking up bits of trash, removing a stone from the path, or be ready to stop running and be of assistance to anyone in need.
5. Mindful Running. Like a priest who puts on his vestments, gear up for a run slowly and methodically. Pay special attention as you put on your socks and lace your shoes carefully, prayerfully. Start out running slowly and be aware of your breathing. Let go of thoughts that arise and be mindful of your running. It is our tendency to distract our mind by entertaining all kinds of thoughts that come to mind. But Joslin suggests to be present at a single task at hand and avoid the multitasking going in your head. Instead, focus on running mindfully, empty a space in yourself, and make room for God. Be rested in God’s presence and you will find peace.
How can I pray for you today? A special intention, for safe travel, for a loved one, for a job? Let me pray for you and with you. Post on my Facebook page www.facebook.com/prayingrunner or email me at email@example.com. You can also post your prayer request on the comments page on this blog.