Devotions on Emotions (and Scripture) by the First Pres Pastors
A reflection on Psalm 27
The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is my stronghold of my life; whom shall I be afraid?
Breathe in. Breathe out. Breathe in. Breathe out. Breath in. Breath out. The app does a gentle pulsation on my Apple watch to alert me to Breathe. Then reminds me, ‘even a minute of breathing can reduce stress.’ I have the options ‘start’ or ‘mute for the day.’ Of course, I need to relax. Of course, I could take the time to untense my shoulders and back. It is just a small act. It is just a minute. It’s almost like a prayer. An alertness to God’s presence and need to reconnect with the Lord. A small moment of time in an already busy day. So, do I hit start? Do I have time, a minute, to breathe deeply? Does such a little but also so many days, I’ve hit mute; breathing minute really help to de-stress and allow contentment to wash over me? Does such, it feels at times, a small act really do anything? Then today I hit start. I stop typing. I stop reading. I stop checking my to-do list, my emails, my Facebook feed. I stop. I follow the prompts and stay alert to the movements of my chest. In, Out. In, Out. In, Out. A minute passes.
A few years back I picked up a book titled, 50 Ways to Pray: Practices from Many Traditions and Times. The study of this book lead to ideas for group studies and events. I revisited the ancient, but still powerful, Lectio Divina with confirmation classes. I’ve taken time at pastor’s retreats to create art as prayer. Each practice is meaningful and enlightening as I’ve been challenged in my understanding the ‘best’ and most powerful ways to pray. And as one who always feels the pull to be ‘productive’ and always connected, physically taking the time to pray needs to, at times, look different.
So, when I think about the emotion and expression of contentment -this app goes off and I pull off my shelf this book to turn to the bodily prayer practice of breath prayer and remind myself, a “breath prayer” is one that moves in and out on the wind of your breath, as the Spirit of God intermingles with your own spirit. It reminds us of the time Jesus breathed on his disciples, saying, “Receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20:22). Breath prayer is more being than doing. It can be wordless or a few words to help focus yourself. As deceptively simple as it is to simply observe your breath and rest in the Lord; what a challenge it is to actually do it! I can recall days when I just ignored that gentle palpitation on my wrist because I was in the middle to something or couldn’t be bothered to stop whatever task I was doing and breathe
Yet, it goes off again. Maybe I am seeking contentment? Will I hit ‘start’ then next time the pulsation alerts on my watch later today? I hope so.
Take just a minute this day and pray with me.
Breath IN: Wait for the Lord. Breath OUT: be strong. IN: Wait for the Lord. OUT: be strong. Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage. Wait for the Lord, Amen.