I hate running.
Not, like, running to catch a plane or to the center line when playing dodgeball or when you hear a dry leaf skid across the asphalt behind you at night and you think there’s some sort of zombie about to jump you and so you sprint to your front door.
I mean for exercise.
I hate it.
I actually like to exercise and work out and I know cardio is really important, but I just hate running! And I know its an extremely popular mode of keeping in shape. Millions of people over the globe do it everyday by choice, my wife being one of them. People train for months on end and run marathons ranging from a few miles to hundreds of miles. And I think that’s awesome!..for them.
I don’t know if it’s the monotony of the same exact thing every second for minutes on end, or the fact that I’m winded after only a few minutes, or that I’m bored even before I’m winded, but whatever it is, I hate it.
I trained once for a 5k to help raise money for some friends of ours that are adopting from Ethiopia. They’re good friends of ours and I really believe in them getting a child, so I did it. And honestly, I liked everything about it…except the running. I trained for a few months and when I crossed that finish line, I sat down, drank some Powerade and haven’t run since.
All that to say, a while ago I decided to try swimming. I’m proud to say that I decided to get into it before the whole Michael Phelps/Ryan Lochte craze hit America. I just knew I needed to do something for cardio and thought I’d try swimming.
And I loved it.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: Isn’t swimming just as monotonous as running?
And yes, you might be right. But for whatever reason, I absolutely loved going to the gym (in the winter) or my friend’s pool (in the summer) a few times a week, putting on my jammers, swim cap, and goggles and swimming for 10 or 20 minutes. My sister-in-law even bought me a water proof mp3 player with water proof headphones so I can listen to music or podcasts while I swim (seriously, so awesome).
I’m sure my stroke isn’t all that great and I’m not really going for time or anything like that, but I really swimming.
Well, the other day I was swimming in my friend’s pool. It’s not that long of a pool (I have to swim 4 lengths to equal 1 Olympic lap) but it’s a nice in-ground one that always seems to be bathed in beautiful sunlight.
I had swam for 15 minutes or so and had finished and decided to just float for a while with my sunglasses on and my headphones in. I was listening to “Codes and Keys” by Death Cab for Cutie and had my eyes closed.
The song “Monday Morning” came on, which is one of my favorites and always gets stuck in my head for no reason, even when I haven’t heard it in weeks. One of the lines of the song says
I am a bird that’s in need of grounding,
I’m built to fly away, I never learned how to stay.
And right at that moment I opened my eyes. And directly above me, way up in the air, there were about 8 or 10 small, black birds that were slowly gliding and circling. The sky was this perfect shade of blue with a few small patches of wispy, white clouds nicely spaced out. And right in the middle of this beautifully colored painting were these birds.
I was struck with how beautiful they were.
A beauty that couldn’t be captured by a picture or a writing, that I got to experience . Floating in a pool on a beautiful, sunny, summer day, with good music in my head and oxygen in my lungs.
And at that moment, I just felt like God was there with me. I mean, obviously I know He was with me all along anyway, but for some reason my spirit just skipped a beat as I took in this scene and I had this sense of His presence around me.
And it was funny because right away I began to think: Okay, so what is God trying to tell me through this moment..? What do the birds represent, what does the song mean, what does that cloud stand for..?
But then I stopped and just decided to appreciate the moment and let my heart worship God within it. Not to try and decipher something deep out of it, but just let it be what it was and soak it up.
I closed my eyes again and took a deep breath as the cool water lapped against the side of my head and torso. I thanked God just for being Him. For being so intimately involved in the almost-lost moments of my day.
I opened my eyes and the birds were gone.
It made me glad I hate running.
“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” – Matthew 6:26