“The various disciplines of the spiritual life are meant for freedom and are reliable means for the creation of helpful boundaries in our lives within which God’s voice can be heard, God’s presence felt, and God’s guidance experienced. Without such boundaries that make space for God, our lives quickly narrow down; we hear and see less and less, we become spiritually sick, and we become one-dimensional, and sometimes delusional, people. The only remedy for this is the intentional practice of prayer and meditation.”
Sometimes it’s easy to notice God–like if there’s a voice from heaven, or a burning bush. Sometimes it’s not as easy to notice God, he might even seem absent, but I believe he’s always there, only as far away as your arm can push him.
Recently, breathing has taught me a lot about God; when I spent a night with a roommate at a retreat a few weeks ago, as I turned over in the middle of the night, I noticed that I could hear her breathing. It was slow, and steady, and deep. Its rhythmic pulling through her lungs lulled me back to sleep.
I realized that if it’d been daytime, I wouldn’t have heard her breathing, though often people sit much closer to me than we had been in the room the night before. There are so many other noises, distractions, demands during the daytime that take our attention away from our own breath and from the sound of others’ breathing. It doesn’t mean that the noise of their lungs is gone, but that other noises are louder, more insistent, more immediate.
I wonder if it doesn’t have something to do with how we’ve trained our attention; whether, if we wanted to, we could shift our ears’ attention to noticing others’ breath, the living force that keeps each of us going every moment of every day.
If we let it, I wonder if each others’ breath, each others’ understanding of and reflection of the Holy, might shift our attention to the deeper, most-immediate parts of our lives–God’s presence around us all the time.