EVERY TIME YOU BREATHE you express the name of God. [“I Am,” which is written with four Hebrew consonants, AHYH. When you pronounce the name God gave to Moses, you make the sound of breathing, You draw in a breath, EH, and you exhale YH, which sounds like yuh.]
The first sound a newborn makes is the name of God. The obstetrician listens for it. It comes first as a cry. Everyone thrills with the first sign that the baby can breathe. The last sound a dying person makes before leaving this earth is the name of God.
I find it profoundly meaningful that every mammal on earth begins and ends life pronouncing the name of God. It does not matter what theology I hold, I automatically, many times every day, say the name of God. Even if I am unconscious, I am constantly giving expression to the name of my Creator. There is never really any doubt about whose I am. I am because I belong to I AM. My existence is a gift from the One who is the source of all.
RIGHTEOUSNESS is a good word to use in naming our deepest longings. The word Jesus used means “rightness,” “fairness,” “to be in right relationship with God and other people.” Those who “hunger and thirst for righteousness” want to be right in character and action. Those who are righteous are doing things rightly—as they ought to be done. They are in the right in what they do, what they say, what they love. To open ourselves to God and acknowledge our hunger for righteousness, therefore, means opening ourselves to be changed, to have our affections and our actions changed.
LIFE WITH GOD is a life in which the rhythms of silence and listening alternate with the rhythms of sharing and service. By praying with every part of who we are, the grace that pours from the well of living water trickles through all the aspects of our being, nourishing and hydrating that which was parched and diseased.
TO LIVE IN THE NOW is to live in separate compartments. When you go to work, be completely focused on the job. Put all home thoughts away. It will be a continual, conscious putting away. When you catch yourself drifting back to home concerns, say to yourself, “I won’t think about that now. I’ll think about it when I get home.”
Do the same thing at home. Put work thoughts away in their own compartments. If you must bring actual work home with you, set aside a specific time and place (not in the family room where all the home-related action is) to do work-related activities. …
My children found my method of compartmentalizing worries frustrating. They couldn’t get me in a dither about an issue that needed an answer next month. I would mentally decide when I needed to make a decision and I’d say, “Don’t ask me about that now. Ask me next Friday (or next week or next year).” I’d let it go and not worry about it until then. How did I do it? I kept reminding myself, “Therefore do not worry about tomortrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough troubles of its own” (Matt. 6:34, NIV).
I HAVE COME TO UNDERSTAND that the heart of Jesus’ invitation to live is an invitation to compassion—to live compassionately. … In the Christian scriptures and in Christian history, love is defined largely in terms of compassion. That’s a relief to me. I confess I’ve never found it easy to define love. It’s so very big. I can call it agape or say it’s some complex mash-up of romantic, platonic, and unconditional stuff, but in the end a precise definition of love eludes me. …
Compassion, though, gives me a handle on the massive umbrella that is love. According to Christian understandings, compassion refers to the concrete ways love (divine and human) is expressed. Compassion grounds love in the world we know. In human lives, compassion shows up as a combination of understanding, feeling, and acting that can be described, identified, named, precisely cultivated, and studied not only in daily life and communities of faith but also in theological studies and scientifc laboratories. …
The heart of the Christian path of love—radical compassion—can be taught. … I don’t have to disregard my feelings, grit my teeth, and just do it. Instead I can learn how to do it, how to become more completely compassionate.
MANY DEMANDS UPON OUR TIME and many opportunities waiting to be explored often fill our lives too full with activities and distractions. When this happens it is not surprising that we grow anxious and lose our sense of peace and tranquility.
Today remember that God and God alone is able to care for all that exists; we can trust our smallest and largest concern to the wisdom and love of God. Peace, hope, calm, and joy are the fruits of placing our confidence in God. May these gifts be yours in abundance.
Inhale: Lord, may I accept myself
Exhale: the way you created me.