I would imagine you’ve noticed that it’s been a crazy week in the world. Well, many weeks and months, I guess. Years, even…
There are all the routine attention grabbing things in life. New ways of eating. A lot more shopping. Sarah, our Newfie, got stung by a bee, right in the corner of her eye. She’s fine now. (Really!) Things to write. Things to edit. Things to plan. Things to read. Things to wash and water and fix. A new mailbox to install. (The door fell off the old one.) And a different door that suddenly doesn’t close right. Soup to make. Appointments to keep. Travel schedules. Well, you get the point.
Then there are the big things for so many of us. The truck bombing in Nice. The racial issues we face as a nation of human beings. The political chaos that is running rampant in America. Hunger. Violence. Homelessness. Bigotry of all kinds. Climate change. This morning, Baton Rouge, again. And on and on and on.
Then there are the other big things. The ones in my corner of the world. A friend and colleague, an indomitable spirit in a body struggling mightily with pain just now. People I love facing major challenges. The sad news that a ministry close to my heart will close its doors at the first of the year. I’m sure you have a list of your own.
There are bright spots, too, of course. Pictures of my girls laughing and playing. Friends sharing their hope. A Facebook picture of the first three baby tortoises known in the Galapagos Islands for 100 years. Less pain in my world just now. And better sleep.
And running through it all, a golden thread I was surprised, again, to discover!
I’ve written before about the ancient practice know as the Jesus Prayer, or, more inclusively, Breath Prayer. Inhale, calling on whatever you consider to be larger than you. God. Spirit. Higher Power. A favorite Saint. The Universe. Then exhale, breathing out a hope, or even a promise.
Years and years ago, I learned this tradition from a Baptist minister and teacher. As I understand it, some of the ancient mothers and fathers of the Christian church taught this practice as a way of following the biblical direction to early believers to “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
I’ve practiced intentionally for different periods of time through the years and I’ve noticed that new words for my breath prayer seem to find me, depending on where I am or what I’m learning. And, a while back, I noticed that my breath prayer had begun, as if on its own, to breathe again inside me during times that have felt much like this week.
It happened again. Inhale, Love. Exhale, Compassion. In and out. And in and out. And in… It helps. At least it helps me.
I know that there are lots of people in the world right now who are insisting that what we need is action, not prayers. I don’t disagree. I just think it’s not an either/or question! And so I’ve prayed. Love, which is, in its most basic sense, my understanding of God. Compassion. A good name for what I’m hoping to be.
In and of itself, it won’t bring back lives tragically lost around the world. It won’t solve the racial and political stress Americans are facing. On the face of it, it probably doesn’t seem like much. In this moment, though, it’s all I’ve got.
I’m happy to share!