Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Breathing Lessons

October 7, 2008

Today I will meet with a friend who has lost a child. She asked me to go to lunch but food makes my stomach hurt. I would just rather sit with her and watch her breathe because sometimes I feel that I cannot. There is assurance in being with someone who has walked the path, felt the unexplainable, carried the emptiness, and yet – there they are – dressed, living, breathing. And they have thought of me, knowing from experience that living and breathing – and sometimes even getting dressed – can be a challenge. I will feel revived after we talk and maybe cry. Oh, I have gotten over my embarrassment of public tears. Most of those are shed in the safety and comfort of my church family and friends and they cry with me. But crying at a restaurant or standing in line at the grocery store just seems to make everyone around kinder to each other. There is a hushed silence and this bewildering sense of calm that is rather soothing.

Even in silence, we can come alongside others to carry a burden. And we never know the burden that someone might be carrying. I read a story once about a pastor who was on an airplane and was looking forward to a nap during the flight. But a father and three children were in the same aisle and the weary man could not seem control his brood. The pastor wanted him to take charge of things. At some point the men made eye contact and the weary man teared up and apologized to the pastor, telling him that they had just come from their mother’s funeral. Nothing more needed to be said.

I wish I could take back all the times I charged ahead, demanded my rights, and made quick assumptions of others who might be in a situation like the man on the airplane. Now I know the pain one can feel when trying to fit back into “normal” life when life has changed forever and taken on a new size. I need to just practice breathing and being still, knowing that God is in control and will guide my next step. And if the step is too hard, he will carry me through – somehow.

As I sit by an opened window this morning, the much-awaited for rain is falling on Dr. Feelgood’s new grass seed. There are a few morning glories catching raindrops. And there is my bright red cardinal, feasting on some of the seeds. He has never left me. The leaves are just beginning to change colors and the summer garden is gone, but new lettuce has been planted for the cooler season. I am encouraged by the Psalmist who said in 23:13-14 “I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage. Wait for the Lord.”

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