Special Issue - Prayer

Keeping fit Through the decades

by Jill Ragar Esfeld

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — When she retired several years ago, St. Patrick parishioner Jan Combs had two aspects of her life she ..wanted to improve: prayer and exercise.

“And I realized if I wanted to do as much exercising as I wanted to do, and if I was going to do as much praying as I wanted to do,” she said, “I was going to have to combine them.”

Combs lives in a senior living apartment house with a long wraparound corridor that she walks several times every day.

“If you start at one end and you go all the way around,” she said, “it’s about a tenth of a mile.”

Because her route is so routine and isolated, Combs has found it easy to get into a meditative state during her daily walk. It’s a perfect time, in fact, to say meditative prayers.

“I do other prayers when I’m not walking, like the Divine Office,” she said. “But when I walk, I do things like the rosary and the chaplet of Divine Mercy, which are very repetitive.”

While on her meditative walk, Combs thinks about the people she knows who need prayers and the mysteries of the rosary as they apply to her life.

“It’s really nice to be doing something physically repetitive at the same time,” she said.

And Combs doesn’t have to use a Fitbit to track her mileage. The rosary does that for her.

“I just decide I’m going to do a twenty- mystery rosary,” she said, “and then I start walking.

“It takes me about an hour and that’s enough. I have marked every time I go around, and it works out to about four to five miles.”

Combs also works out at a gym and enjoys saying her rosary on the treadmill and while using the recumbent bike.

But when it comes to walking, she stays inside, even on nice days.

“I do go into that meditative state where I’m not paying much attention to outer things,” she said. “I think it’s safer for everyone if I’m not on the streets.”

About the author

Jill Esfeld

Jill Ragar Esfeld received a degree in Writing from Missouri State University and started her profession as a magazine feature writer, but quickly transitioned to technical/instructional writing where she had a successful career spanning more than 20 years. She returned to feature writing when she began freelancing for The Leaven in 2004. Her articles have won several awards from the Catholic Press Association. Jill grew up in Christ the King parish in Kansas City, Missouri; and has been a member of Holy Trinity Parish in Lenexa, Kansas, for 35 years.

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