Monday, April 4, 2011

Storm Breathing

Spring Break.

I long and yearn to be at the edge of the ocean smelling the brine in the air and hearing the waves break on the shore. Watching the seagulls swoop and glide. I want to feel the grit of sand in my toes and relish the sun on my face. I want to breathe deep. Deep breathing that allows the breath to go all the way to bottom of my lungs.

I have to ask: can I only breathe deep at the ocean? Is it the salt on the air and the sound and noise and the sheen of the sun that produces this euphoria? Is it the burn on my skin and the slap of the ocean waves on my calves? Or is it the endless and soothing roll of the water wetting the sand and darkening it on the edges? What is it about the ocean? Can I only breathe deeply there?

At the ocean my restlessness gets absorbed. Schedules are relaxed. The question is what do we want to do rather than what do we have to do. Inwardly our bodies become tuned to the rhythm of the vast sea.

But I can’t go there now. Circumstances just aren’t in order. I am, however, realizing God is asking me to breathe deeply anyway.

I have been breathing these shallow breaths for too long. Functional and adequate breaths, but not the ones which move all the way down until my lungs are expanded and inflated. Shallow breathing does not get held, but expelled quickly in order to take the next one. God wants me to stop and hold my breath. Hold my breath until—I can release it slowly.

A measured exhale.

I have been concerned about Spring Break. The Theory of Relativity strikes true in this short week. I have been concerned my shallow breathing will jeopardize the next seven days.

Slowing down your breathing is not an easy task. Our lives demand us to do otherwise. Our heart rates stay high, and we seem to remain in a constant state of motion.

Newton stated an object will remain in motion until acted upon by an outside force.

The Spirit has been wooing me all day long. He is the outside force acting on my frenzied motion. Certainly I had enough plans to fill my whole day. My husband sensed I had too much on my mind—I started to make my lists—he could feel my restlessness.

I wanted sunshine today. Wanted the sun to come out full force—loud and brilliant. Instead I was given rain and a thunderstorm.

I was put in the middle of a thunderstorm.

A storm brings a stillness of its own. I went out on the porch and watched the rain come down in slate gray sheets—pushed sideways by the ferocity of the wind.

Even now thunder rumbles and vibrates across the sky. A sky, ten shades of gray, is hanging low and heavy. The house is quiet and subdued in shadows. The lights seem far too artificial and glaring. Intently I listen. The rain rolls off the porch roof and pours from the gutter spouts. Thunder comes again mumbling and grumbling.

Earlier I stood at the back door and then stepped out onto the deck. I crossed my arms and pulled them tight against my chest and closed my eyes. And I opened them slowly and watched the ominous clouds hover and then roll across the sky. I turned and saw the leaves flip and flutter and the tops of the trees sway. Lightning was somewhere I just couldn’t see it.

I can’t go to the ocean this week. God knew this. And I asked for sunshine.

Instead he provided a storm, and allowed me to be right in the middle. He knew which one I needed first.

Our front door stands open. As I inhale I can smell the rain. I can feel the coolness of the air floating through the house. And there is no brine, but there is something.

A calm. A stillness. A rhythm.

Restlessness absorbed.

I breathe deep. And I hold it.

Inhale.

Exhale.

Inhale.

Exhale.

Everything that has breath, praise the Lord!

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