Giving Up on Conventional Wisdom

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.”