I'm accompanying a family member as she fights a terminal and aggressive disease. Each couple of days is different from the next. She undoubtably has it worse than me; they're her lungs, bones, and pelvis being attacked. As one of her caretakers and loved ones, at the end of the day, when I lay down in my bed, if I have any mind left, my thoughts are on me; how difficult all of this is for me. Will I survive. I'm trying to figure out what to do with my life. Letting go and letting God only sounds easy. To me it is terrifying. I am a faithful control freak. Oxymoron. So I go back to the breath. I fight and claw for those shallow, panicked inhalations to become even, tempered, grounding, deep breaths. When I can breathe I can live.
My devotional life is a bit (I have to say only a bit, I have my pride, after all) ragged at the moment. Devotional practice goes out with a whimper, very gently into the things I sincerely wanted to do but that now are entirely forgotten. But. If I can just get back to the breath. If I can get outside of myself and into life. If I can understand that these things need each other. Life, and life more abundantly.
When I breath; when I concentrate on the breath -and yes, it is crucial to know it is the breath and not my breath- I can only receive as much as I release. I am both full and empty. Yes, I miss my Buddhist meditation group if you're wondering:)
Paul Tillich says that sometimes, just being is the most courageous thing one can do. It is a supreme act of faith to just breathe.
In the face of my revealed self-centeredness, I breathe. In the all too familiar face of a loved one fighting for life, I breathe. In the face of my failures to maintain the faithful practice I need, I breathe. In the face of the sheer panic that comes from knowing I am not in control and that God tends to reveal to me only one step at a time. And, even in the face of not being able to breath as deeply, evenly and centered as I want, I breathe.
Keep breathing, until it is finished.
"...stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand." Ephesians 6:13b