I've felt it all day, that inability to catch my breath. My life is in transition again, and changes, even the little ones, even the ones we know will be just fine... changes shake up our worlds. And when my world is shaking, I'd like to sing with JJ Heller that Heaven stands and I stay secure in His hands (because that is Truth). But the reality is when my world shakes I shake and anxiety kicks in and I can't catch my breath. So I wind up and run, because effectiveness and efficiency have always been my answer to anxiety in the transitions, but that's not a good answer!
I learned about this spiritual discipline when I was in a prep class for my trip to China in 2011. It comes from the story Jesus tells about the tax collector who went the temple to pray. "But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’" (Luke 18:13) Breathe in: Lord Jesus, Son of God. Breathe out: Have mercy on me, a sinner. This idea eventually became part of the mass. In the Latin it is Kyrie Eleison. In: Kyrie (Lord). Out: Eleison (Have mercy). Lord, have mercy. And yes. It says so much because I need mercy. I am so, so human. I sin. I try to run my own life. I grow fearful instead of trusting. When my world is shaking, I need mercy to steady me.
And I always find it. I count gifts I never deserved. I wake up and hear Him call me Beloved before I do a thing.
Oh, He shows mercy to this sinner moment by moment, breath by breath. And that's the discipline of breath prayers. I inhale Jesus and exhale a plea for mercy, then repeat and find the prayer answered, because only mercy keeps us breathing, and only Christ keeps us steady when our changing worlds are shaking