Sometimes if I sit in the front room of the house and time it just right, I can hear my husband from upstairs, my child from down the hall and the dog (usually right next to me) breathing. Deeply. That deep, slow relaxed breathing that comes when you have given up and fallen asleep. It helps (in terms of decibels anyway) that all three of my dear ones tend to also breathe loudly, in that not quite a snore vein.
As I ponder what it means to live a life of faith, that feels about right. We are meant to breathe deeply, to take in all that God has to offer us as beloved children. And yet, we are so wound up about life that we don’t even realize how shallowly we are breathing. How constricted our airways have become. Then, when crisis comes, we are at risk of hyperventalating – attempting to take in the air we need, but breathing so quickly there is no time for the lungs to exchange the bad for good.
Then, somehow, we slow down. Perhaps at Lent or Advent. Or maybe during a sabbatical. Or we just get to the edges of our realities and energy and pass out cold. By intention or accident, we are finally relaxed and in the arms of the one who called us, saying “I will give you rest”. And as we come, first yawning… then finally breathing deeply.
Some pray and confess in this way- breathing out the sins God has revealed to us and breathing in grace and mercy.
Some seek to be like John – breathing in Christ, breathing out self
Others imagine the Spirit who blows where it will, finds its way to the believer who is open to breathing in and experiencing the how the Spirit abides within.
For me, I suppose it is a daily letting go. As I peel my unwilling fingertips off the edges of the day – the troubles and triumphs, embarrassments and celebrations no longer mine to hold, I feel my chest rising and falling in rhythm with things beyond my small part of the universe. Without the stuff to hold onto, my hands and arms, my heart and mind, my entire being is open. I am asking God to breathe life into my tired frame once more.
And I begin to breathe deeply. I hope God doesn’t mind the snoring.