Want to find rest from the weariness of COVID-19? Breathe

March 27, 2020

On Sunday I watched the news – until I couldn’t watch it any longer. I doubt I learned anything new during those three hours. I confess that I’ve never been much of a Sabbath observer, but I can say with confidence that there was nothing about Sunday that felt like a day of rest (except sleeping in and tuning into our church’s online worship service while still in my pajamas).

On Sunday I needed rest. I sat around all day, but it wasn’t rest. A big chunk of the day was spent consuming news that wasn’t new, except for the God-awful, rising number of COVID-19 cases and casualties, which only further prevented any sense of rest. Watching the news only fed fear and anxiety, doubt and disbelief.

About 6:00 I picked up my phone and noticed an invitation to join a friend in an online yoga class. My wife, Wendi, and I tried yoga last year – again. However, after a few months, we had missed the point about the importance of self-care and breathing deeply, so we stopped. But, I really have missed it. And these days, I miss it even more.

So, we logged on to Facebook Live for yoga focused on healing amid our shared anxiety. The hour of stretching and breathing provided the rest I had been needing.

Maybe yoga is not the way for you; but here’s the question: How can you find rest from all the noise that still exists in a social-distancing, shelter-at-home environment, especially in the relentless 24-hour news cycle? (And how intentional are you about separating the noise from the news in the first place?)

“Breathe deep the breath of God.”

How can you find rest from the seemingly never-ending experience that your home is also your office? Or the never-ending reality that your home is now your children’s school? Or the never-ending potential of being on perpetual lockdown in your home-turned-school-and-workplace?

We all need rest. We always have. And we need it right now, each and every day. We need it even if only for brief moments to remind us that surviving this season of global pandemic is not all there is to life.

So, how do you create rest from the weariness of COVID-19?

Take a step away and breathe. Breathing is so simple (and necessary). Yet we almost never do it with intentionality. Dedicate some time each day to step away to breathe – to breathe deep the breath of God.

Breathe deep the breath of God. Though the idea is hardly original, that simple sentence came to me from an alternative Christian music hit a few decades ago by Lost Dogs, the Christian version of the rock supergroup, the Traveling Wilburys. Lost Dogs wrote a song in 1990 that included the chorus, “Breathe deep / breathe deep the breath of God.” Those words have guided my approach to prayer, mindfulness and meditation ever since.

Can I stop long enough to recognize my need to breathe deep? To acknowledge with gratitude that I am breathing the breath of God? That each breath I take is a gift from God? As a form of rest, as a way to rest in the love of a God who gives us our every breath, would you join me in these anxious times to commit ourselves to step away, to simply sit and breathe?

Would you take 10 minutes each day to do nothing more than breathe deep?

Now is a great time to start this ancient-modern practice. In these anxious days of the novel coronavirus, we are all mindful of the gift of our health and our ability to breathe. Let us purposefully devote a few of those breaths to God as a thank you for the gift of breath.

Sit. Breathe. Breathe deep. Breathe deep the breath of God.


Original column appeared here at Baptist News Global.