One of our devotional leaders was Dr. Bo Karen Lee from Princeton Theological Seminary. As she led us in a morning prayer time, she asked us to join her in a breath prayer. As you draw in breath, ask God for what you need--your deepest longings. As you exhale, let go of what needs to be let go. We sat in silence for a minute and a half, but I could have sat there all day with that, I think.
As I drew in breath, the sharp and clear longing for intimacy in my life was unmistakeable. It is not good for human to be alone, I thought. And as I exhaled, I feebly attempted to let go of pain from intimacies gone wrong. Desire and pain, as inextricably linked as inhale and exhale.
I cannot breathe in the mercies of God without exhaling the suffering of this world. I cannot exhale suffering without inhaling the mercies. There is no room for the air, one without the other.
Oh yes, a minute and a half is not nearly long enough for *this* prayer. A lifetime, perhaps, to exhale what a lifetime has brought. A lifetime or more to fill one's lungs with the Infinite.
No wonder we breathe so shallowly. Perfectly balanced between desire and pain, fearful that our lungs might burst either which way we turn. I wonder which breath will break first.