"Think about the last time you were stressed out – I mean really stressed out – I mean 'I have four papers due on Monday and I washed a red shirt with the whites and I’ve been stuck on the tarmac at Logan for two hours for no discernible reason' stressed out. What did your friends do? They took you for coffee or for ice cream or, perhaps, for coffee ice cream. They told you to take a couple deep breaths. They told you to focus on breathing. Everything will be alright, they said. They knew that breathing, like God’s presence, is a constant in our lives. They knew that we don’t have to focus on constant things in order for those constant things to continue happening. But they also knew that when we do focus on those constant things, we often find peace – peace and new beginnings." The Rev. Adam Thomas
Once when I was in a real crisis, my therapist Anna took me on a little spiritual journey that began with the words "I want you to become aware of your breathing." That commenced a little trip to a place inside myself that I'll call my conscious contact with God. It's always been there and does not depend on my awareness. Each time I remember Anna's words in that still quiet place, it re-emerges, unchanged by time and neglect. And each time I renew my conscious contact with it, its nourishing power, its salving balm is just as sweet as it was the first time. My God is like that. Unchanging, not dependent on me, ever salving, calming, saving.
The story of "Jacob's Ladder" to which the Adam Thomas piece refers, begins with a dream. Many stories in Scripture begin with dreams. Like dreams, our unconscious and the synchronistic nature of things, always lie just beneath the surface of our conscious busyness, and when we get stressed out, frantic, afraid, tired, they are there to remind us, "I want you to become aware of your breathing." And when we return, in an instant it reappears, that connection with something greater than self, greater than circumstances, greater than the world, greater than death. Yes, greater than death! That clear clean cool well of pure spiritual awareness that is our God is waiting for us, and all we have to do is breathe. Amen.
Now check out Adam Thomas' blog for a slightly more coherent hint of what I'm talking about.