Conventional wisdom says that if you do not have enough time in your day you should speed up and multi-task. I have bought into conventional wisdom. While I drive home, I talk to my children through a Bluetooth in my car. While I answer emails, I eat lunch at my desk. While I write the pastor’s page, I do the laundry and bake a cake. While I pay bills, I watch the news. I have found myself feeling more and more frenetic and less and less centered. Things I used to savor doing have become just one more thing on a long list.
Recently someone invited me to “breathe and observe.” I have heard people use the phrase “non-anxious presence” for some years now, but I thought I could be a “non-anxious presence” as I feverishly moved from one task to another. I’m sure I wasn’t fooling anyone, but what I realized is that I need to be a non-anxious presence for myself. I need to be present inside my own skin. I need to savor and expand the moments of my life; otherwise I can’t really be present to other people’s moments.
So I finally listened to the advice I received: “Breathe and observe.” When I am feeling like I need to do more, I hear, “Breathe and observe.” When I wish someone would get to the point, I say to myself, “Breathe and observe.” When I walk the dog in the morning I say, “Breathe and observe.” When I am working on writing a sermon, I chant, “Breathe and observe.”
It has helped me see God’s hand at work all around me. When I breathe and observe in a hospital room, or driving down the freeway, or riding my bike to Hillcrest, or sitting with someone in my office, I see God everywhere. I hear the words of the Psalmist, “Be still and know that I am God.” “Be a non-anxious presence and know that I am God.” “Breathe and observe and know that I am God.”