During the summer months here in Minnesota, I am an avid lake swimmer. Come fall though, I transition to swimming laps at my local YWCA.
I get into the pool three times a week and swim a mile each time – about 45 minutes of solid swimming. Generally I count laps. For years I have used the counting and the repetitive movement as a meditation, silently saying the number of whatever lap I’m swimming each time I exhale.
This last week I began a new practice as I swam, something I am calling “bubble prayers.” Instead of counting laps, I use each exhale to send love to the people in my life. I picture their dear faces one by one and silently speak their name during a series of strokes. The next face arises and I breathe bubbles into that one’s name.
Today began my “bubble prayers” with my family, devoting an entire length’s worth of strokes and breaths to my 92-year-old mom. From there I blessed both of my brothers and each member of their extended clans – sisters-in-law, nephews, nieces, and the little great-nieces and great–nephews.
From there I breathed the beloved faces and names of my friends near and far, giving extra strokes to those who are facing particular challenges – things like cancer, mental illness, family stresses, job losses, and grief.
I was intrigued by how vividly I pictured each of their faces and how deeply I felt connected to them.
When I had exhausted the list of the living loved ones, I began cherishing the people who are no longer living. It is nearing All Soul’s Day as I write this, so it seemed a perfect time to thank and appreciate my “angels hovering ‘round” in this way.
I made bubble prayers for my ancestors, known and unknown.
For my father who died in my arms 25 years ago.
For many friends of all ages who are with me always in the things they taught me through their living and their dying.
By the time I left the pool, I was filled with gratitude for the great variety of love that has woven through my life. What used to be a repetitive exercise routine had turned into something sacred and beautiful.
It made me wonder about other times and places where a little creativity and intention could transform something mundane into something holy.
Singing particular songs when folding laundry?
Chanting in traffic on my way to visit my mother?
Lighting a candle while I balance my checkbook?
Whatever answers emerge from this inquiry will pale in comparison to the power of the question itself. The very asking of it opens my heart to gratitude and presence.