Breathing In and Out: Toward a Real Spirituality

It’s about breathing. Dr. Helen Barnes (a hero of mine) when asked what she was going to do when confronted with the results of a catastrophic event replied, “I going to breath in and I’m going breath out.” If the goal of the Christian journey is union/oneness with God and sin/alienation is what separates us from God, then a foundational issue is how do we face reality, the totality of reality? Humans use rationalization, denial, avoidance and other strategies to format reality to fit our needs and wants.

What is God’s will for humanity? I believe that God intends humans to mature. Maturity comes from facing challenge. Whatever moves us away from reality toward unreality is not Christian spirituality. I think often of the remarks of the late Dr. Edwin Friedman on the nature of idolatry.

“The problem with the worship of idols is not the actual worship but what that worship denies. Idolatry in any age and in any form is always the false promise of immediate security,the pretense of certainty at the expense of the more painful experience of the growth that can only come by facing challenge. Taken out its primitive context, idolatry has many forms, from substance abuse to bend others to our own will, to the panicky search for the right answer. Always, however, it denigrates the power of a human being to cope with reality, always it goes in the direction of reducing one’s threshold for enduring pain, always it dilutes the resolve to develop the emotional stamina to manage crisis, and therefore it always denies the spark of the divine.”

We are called to move into the future in faith, breathing in and breathing out, learning from our experiences, developing stamina along the way that leads to the maturity of our souls.