Embracing the Rhythm of Life

Photo: Sister Nancy A. Sell, OSF

Back and forth, lap after lap.  The water was cool and fresh.  Refreshing.  Wonderful.  Rhythmically.  Splash, splash, splash.  I love to swim.  The back stroke is my favorite.  Swimming laps at a local pool  I am safest when I swim alone in a lane so that I don’t hurt myself bumping into someone.   I have had previous experiences hitting my head against the pool or bumping into someone.  I am protective of my head and neck.  My favorite lane is lane #2.  Why?  I am not sure.  Perhaps because I don’t have to think much, perhaps when I swim, I just keep my eyes on the flags above me as I reach  the end of the pool so I don’t hit my head and I know when to turn to go back.   Swimming is wonderful reflection time.  Week after week, absolutely wonderful.  Then, one day…

The pool was very crowded one day.  Unusual.  People were waiting to share lanes.  Could I move to lane #1?  Yes, not a problem.  Underneath the rope I go.  I moved to lane #1 as really only one person can swim in this lane, the other lanes can handle 2 people swimming freestyle.  You see, lane #1 has obstacles.  Two metal ladders and a metal contraption which lowers someone into the water stick out from the side of the pool.  These three metal objects stick out into lane #1.  Swimming wasn’t fun for the rest of the morning.  I lost my focus.   I kept my eyes on the metal objects concerned I would run into it.   I can do this I told myself, it will just take time.  I’ll get my rhythm back.   Well, it took time, it was not an easy fix.  My rhythm was definitely off.

After about three days of swimming in lane #1 I suddenly realized the problem.  Rather than swimming rhythmically and watching the flags above me to signal the end of the pool, I was watching the OBSTACLES afraid I would run into them.   When I watched the metal objects my rhythm was completely off.  After I realized this, I kept my eyes on the flags and not the obstacles.  The swim became rhythmic again.  I realized this was not just a lesson in swimming.  What happened to me in the pool was a lesson in life.

Swimming is similar to life at times.  Rather than keeping our eyes on God (the flags), we often keep focused on the obstacles in life (the metal objects).  When we keep our eyes focused on the obstacles, our rhythm of life is off.  Often we are not happy, focused or content.  When we keep our eyes focused on God,  life seems to be more in  rhythm–and whether there are obstacles or not,  we stay in rhythm.   In the midst of trying days, however, it is sometime difficult to keep our eyes focused on God and our true self.  This is where trust enters in.  We trust our God who calls us to life and happiness even in the midst of obstacles however they present themselves, hurts, disappointments, sadness.

In the gospel of Mark (10:13-16 ) from the Christian scriptures, Jesus says, unless you become like little children, you will not know peace, freedom and your true self.  Unless something happens to children early in life, they are born trusting.  In their dependence on others, they trust that all will be well.  We trust in God like a child who is born trusting that all will be well.

We need trust to keep our eyes focused on Oneness in our lives rather than obstacles.  And when our focus is on Divine Life or however we name the loving God in our lives, our lives stay in rhythm regardless of the obstacles. The obstacles are still there yet our eyes focus on God whose beauty we catch glimpses in a beautiful sunrise or sunset, the fall colors, water rising again the shore, or a single flower leaning brilliantly into the sun.  Our eyes fixed on beauty we stay afloat in the midst of obstacles.

Our God is a God of rhythmic buoyancy.

Our invitation is to embrace the rhythm of life.

Blessings and peace,

About SisterNancy

I am a Catholic Sister, a member of the School Sisters of St. Francis from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I enjoy swimming and nature: hiking in the mountains and along rolling hills, sitting by water and walking through the various seasons of life. I am a spiritual director, spirituality consultant, chaplain and retreat director. You can contact me at sisternancyosf@gmail.com
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