Take a Moment to Breathe and Listen

By Staff Writer

May seems to be a busy month -- school, friends, sports, productions, finals, graduation, finding jobs, planning vacations. There's hardly time to breathe. But if we're going to get through all the craziness successfully, we need to breathe, listen, and be still.

Even Jesus withdrew from the crowd. He went up into the mountains, or he asked his disciples to get a ship so they could be alone. He needed space to listen to God, to gain spiritual insights, get directions, and rejuvenate himself so that he could help the crowds of people who needed him and fulfill his mission.

We may not have a mountain to climb or a ship in which to sit silently, but we can consciously breathe. When we breathe in, we can breathe in love, trust, peace – whatever we need. Then we can take a moment to listen. We can do what the psalmist tells us: "Be still, and know that I am God" (Ps 46:10 ESV).

My three-year-old daughter and I had just laughed our way down a snow sled run. I put my arms around her and said, "Shhhh. Listen." We sat there in silence for about a minute. "What do you hear?" I asked her. The wind was blowing through the trees. "A waterfall," she said. It sounded just like one.

Then I asked her to look at the trees and tell me why the branches were moving. "The wind is going through the trees," she said. I explained that that's what she heard. Then we listened for more sounds -- a mountain pigeon, a jay, a very chatty squirrel that must have come out of hibernation early, an airplane, a dog, quiet.

In those moments of stillness, we breathed in the clean mountain air and let the presence of God fill us up. We were totally peaceful, completely attentive, and present in the moment. It was restful and rejuvenating. It was only natural that we then expressed gratitude for each other, for where we were, for what we were doing. We thanked God.

We all can find or make such moments. In the middle of our busy lives, we can simply stop and listen -- to what we hear, to what God is telling us. It doesn't need to take long. As the song from "Hello, Dolly!" says, "It only takes a moment…." In those moments, we can feel the spirit of God move through us -- like the wind rushing through the trees. We can't see the wind, but we can see, hear, and feel the effect of the wind -- and of God.

Enjoy many moments alone with God.