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Inhale/exhale: for most of us, breathing is an unconscious process but vital for living. For those with pulmonary issues, though, breathing becomes conscious and maintains intimate contact with reality. Accustomed defense mechanisms cease; in their absence, emotional honesty deepens, and the search for the meaningful increases.

Such has been my experience. My daily dependence upon medicines dispensed through a nebulizer, morning and evening, continue treating my hardening air sacs and teaching me, as well, through listening to the world around me.

This morning, a dear friend shared a significant quote from the fifteenth-century Indian poet and mystic Kabr:  

What is God? the student asked? He is the breath inside the breath.

I was already familiar with the Hebrew word, ruah, signifying God’s breath and or spirit, used in the two Genesis stories and in Pentecost’s gift of tongues, found in the Acts of the Apostles. Decades of meditations on this concept seemed to postulate a God, outside of me who somehow cared and protected me for long years. But Kabr’s experience of God as Breath has revolutionized my sense of Him, and the use of the nebulizer.

Ordinarily an exhausting and boring treatment requiring a minimum of seventy inhalations, each one now begins with awareness of emptied lungs, slowly filling them until unable to take another breath, but taking another, sometimes two, that touches my Essence—admittedly, a different way to meditate but it works.

I suspect this practice of Kabir’s understanding must alleviate the sting of physical death. There’s no record of his own.

As I recall the Genesis story of Cain and Abel (4: 1–16), I’m not as shocked by our distraught world, shimmering with incurable disease, violence, and corruption. From its very beginnings, evil has seeded our world with the Seven Deadly Sins: anger, pride, lust, greed, sloth, gluttony, and envy. I know, because I have all of them, as does everyone else.

When failed instincts succumb to temptation to have more, to be more, or to leave a trail of monuments in their honor, violence inevitably ensues, whether around the kitchen table or the conference table.

Examples of evil in my lifetime are rife: World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and Afghanistan. The Killing Fields in Cambodia, Stalin’s Gulag Archipelago, Castro’s Cuba, and the corruption of Central American governments—all buzzed on the AP, but only handing out piecemeal information. The 1960s assassinations of President Kennedy, his brother Robert, and Dr. Martin Luther King revealed the agendas of the underworld.

Lynchings and other nasty racist practices also killed bodies and spirits. Our legislators declared war on unborn babies. Clergy sexually abused altar boys, leaving irreparable psycho-social harm. The proliferation of drugs contributing to the watered-down ethos in global societies still smells to high heaven. And the hype of the sports and entertainment worlds distract from significant life values.

But as with the plight of Cain after he murdered his brother, we are not left without resources to thrive in the midst of this madness. Those practicing faith in God are marked and will find their way, even to their deaths.

The Twelve Steps help scrutinize my behavior.

Psalm 16:11 You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

Such is promised those who enter the sanctuary of their hearts and listen and obey. The guidance is there. We’ve only to follow it.

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