This Lent, I have been doing a lot of breathing exercises. My breath follows me everywhere, is a constant companion. The sound and the rhythm of my breath calms me when I am intentional about listening. It’s a built-in tool for reflection.
Focusing on my inhales and exhales, I settle into the tension and balance in the space between the two. Inhales feel like striving, reaching, growing. They bring in new life, new breath, new opportunity. Exhales feel like grounding, centering and contracting. They expel toxins and invite me to let go.
In our quest to find God, we reach and explore. We seek out the Bible and theologians, nature and friends. Sometimes I stop there. God is outside of me, and I go searching. But every inhale requires an exhale. If I believe I am made in the image of God, I have to trust that God is dwelling in me, too. In addition to turning outward and striving to find God, I have to sit still and let God find me. I have to turn inward and acknowledge the indwelling God.
What if part of the work is to find myself? And in finding myself, I will also encounter God. This is not to say that I am God. Thank goodness. I think this is part of what is scary about the turning inward. We know that we may be disappointed by what we find. We are limited. We are human. We fall short. Yet the same spirit that dwells in nature, that is alive in the scriptures also dwells inside of us all. It is a flame that benefits from kindling, from our turning inward with a quiet mind, body and heart. This Lent, in my breathing, I am honoring both the inhale and the exhale. Both the striving and grounding, both outward and inward quests. The courage to venture inward comes from the belief that I don’t have to be enough. My God is.