Be that as it may, I was at a confirmation retreat. It was spring (the Easter season), and during the free time (I use the term loosely), I was thinking about this community meeting, and worrying about it, and I was thinking about Easter sermons, and what I would preach about. I was thinking about resurrection stories.
While I was thinking and worrying and pondering, one of the other adult volunteers was doing a couple of easy yoga moves, and encouraging me to take a break and do a couple of them with her. I had been thinking about learning yoga for awhile, although I had never really gotten around to it. I heard that it helped with anxiety, which can't be a bad thing.
So I reluctantly got up and practiced one of the easy moves with her, which to me seemed like the kind of a lunge you would do if you were fencing. She looked at me and said something like, "The secret of yoga is breathing," but for some reason in my memory the words became, "The secret of life is breathing".
I have remembered these words.
Of course, if you want to stay alive, all you have to do is keep breathing. It is as simple as that. It struck me as both ludicrous and profound at the same time. The secret of life is breathing.
But of course she meant more than just breathing. She meant that the way you breathe is important too, that it is important to breathe deeply and intentionally and with a certain kind of support.
That is the secret of life: to breathe deeply and intentionally and with a certain kind of support.
And there is something else too, something from one of those resurrection stories that I was reading, those resurrection stories that I know by heart, if I take time to remember them. There is one in particular where Jesus meets his disciples and says, "Peace be with you," and then he breathes on them the Holy Spirit. And in the scripture it doesn't say this, but I would imagine that they would breathe deeply too, breathe deeply the Holy Spirit that he gave to them, to take in the life and peace and reconciliation that he gave.
When I am anxious, here in this new place, in this new call, when I don't know what to do next, when I don't yet know what is the next right thing to do, sometimes I remember to breathe deeply. And you know what?
It helps. It is the secret of life: to breathe deeply and intentionally and with a certain kind of support. Maybe that is why singing helps too, even though it sometimes makes me cry. It is a kind of prayer, and it forces me to breathe deeply, and intentionally and with a certain kind of support.
Yesterday, on vacation, we visited a church. The last song they sang was "Love divine, all Loves Excelling." I was breathing deeply through the words and the music and the promise the Holy Spirit that had been given to me. I was breathing deeply and for a moment again I thought I can do the impossible things, I can take the next step, because it is not me but the Holy Spirit in me.
It is the next right thing. It is my New Year's Resolution. It is the secret of life.
Breathing, and living, and trusting -- deeply.