Guest Blogger: Kayla Cole
*This is the first of a series of posts on Lenten Prayer Practices.
Let’s face it: In this day and age, committing to anything more than breathing for 40 solid days is pretty miraculous. Unless you’re a monk, maybe.
Yeah, me neither.
As I sit typing this, I realize that I’m nearly a week behind schedule. And I’m starting to run out of ready excuses, now that each of my three children are in school all day (praise Jesus!). I’m already off the swimming routine that I just began late January. And on Friday, when I bring home the puppy we just adopted, I’ll have another excuse for every failed intention. (Our cat isn’t going to be very happy about that.)
But, at least I’ve got the intention. That’s half the battle. Anything is better than nothing. Four days, four hours, even four minutes, are better than zero. And this—writing about it—makes me accountable. I’ll still fail, because I’m human, but that’s our saving grace, too.
When I was out window shopping BY MYSELF the other day [cue the angelic chorus], I ran into an old coworker—as in, from the good ol’ college days of Barnes and Noble Booksellers. Turns out she traded her nametag lanyard for a red Target shirt.
You can imagine the conversation:
“How are you?”
“Oh…you know… [smile and shrug] You, too?”
“Yep… How many kids do you have?”
“Three, all in school now.”
“Wow. So are you working anywhere?”
[soundtrack screeches to a halt]
This is where I usually make a crack about being a deadbeat housewife, which is only funny because it’s such a killer oxymoron, and also as untrue as false can be.
“Nope. I’m just trying to catch my breath while I’ve got the chance.”
As I continued on with my day, happy to get back to me, myself, and the intermittent whisper of thoughts geared toward fulfilling my Lenten obligation, I recognized something: a pattern in my response. This wasn’t the first time I explained my reason for ‘not working’ being ‘to catch my breath.’ How many times had I casually referenced that idea, and to how many people? More than enough to catch my attention.
So often while I was home with three kids (three and a half years between my oldest and youngest) it felt like I was barely afloat. Sinking. Drowning. It was all about them, and I was adrift to God knows where. And after seven years of treading water, I finally have a chance to just sit and breathe.
Isn’t that funny? And kind of maddening? It’s only when we aren’t living in survival mode that we become aware of our breath, and how vital it is to our well-being. Just the simple act of willful breathing, in and out, can stop a giant mistake from happening. Or maybe plant a miracle.
So, in full Jesus-style, I’m going to start my Lenten prayer journey where I am: caught up in catching my breath.
With a little research, I found a Scottish mediation and proof that I’m a Mystic when it comes to practicing spirituality. Therefore, I have concocted my own version of a breathing prayer. I call it:
The Progressive Breath Prayer
The idea is to start small, focusing on your breath for each line, repeating each line as many times as you need to—until your head and heart are ready for more. I recommend taking three deep breaths (in and out) before you begin.
The beauty of breath prayers is that you can make them into whatever you need them to be. Even if you need something to calm you down or distract you from something unfavorable, this might do the trick.
|I am||giving you|
|I am giving||you all|
|I am giving||you all of me|
I hope that you find respite and peace with your progressive breathing this week. Take advantage of every passing opportunity. I intend to do the same.