I thought in the light of all the ‘panic’ we have seen in the last few days especially and certainly in this last week it would be good to write something about breathing.

I have often talked to you all about the fact that coming to worship on a Sunday (or any other day for that matter) and then being sent back into the world is a little like breathing. You can look at it from two different perspectives it seems to me and therefore the two are intrinsically linked. You can either see the gathered, intentional worship as the breath in which then allows us to have oxygen for the following week and whatever comes to us and gives us grace to breathe the breath of God out into the world around us. Or you could see that all the events of the week are like the breath in and then when we gather for intentional worship we breathe everything out to God and for God – offering ourselves into his keeping.

There is a third perspective too – maybe the breath in is what happens to us in the week, the breath out is our gathered, intentional worship and we also take another breath in as we encounter God in prayer, praise, word, bread and wine and one another that gives us more oxygen and allows us to breathe out in the world again.

As many of you know I have been trying to use mindfulness as well as prayer to calm my thinking and it is all about noticing the rhythm of your breathing. I have to admit that at the moment it is very difficult to keep my mind or my body still. There is much to absorb from many different people and thoughts and reflections that have been latently at the back of people’s heads are now in this strange and frightening time coming to the fore. They are seeking out the ‘vicar’ to make sure everything is going to be ok.

Trying to keep the rhythm of breathing going in these circumstances is going to be difficult for us all. However, we can still have rhythm to our worship – joining in wherever you are as Heather and I say the daily office and night prayer. Going to the Church of England website if you are able to do so and from yesterday there is an audio version of ‘today’s prayer’ for those of you who need to hear a voice. It is just one prayer but may be part of your rhythm of breathing in the next couple of weeks and maybe months. You can find it at

The rhythm of our lives is going to be very different but it is vital for us to keep that rhythm going if we are going to stay mentally and physically well.

Heather and I have been doing a lot of thinking about the monastic or convent rhythm of life. It is a rhythm that encompassed prayer at specific points during the day, as well as the night; work, study, eating, leisure and exercise. I know many of you already follow a rule of life but maybe now, as our own spaces become more limited and we share them with others, it is the time to find a rule of life and a new rhythm.

What might that look like for you?

I am going to write mine out this morning so that I have a rhythm that allows me to keep breathing well and allows me to still take in the breath of God and breathe it upon others (obviously not literally!!!!).

What would work look like for you? Is it tidying or sorting a room in your house? Is it weeding the garden? Is it making or creating something? Is it emails or work phone calls still if you are working from home?

What does leisure look like for you now? Is it watching something – a film or a programme? Is it reading those books you’ve been meaning to for a long time? Is it playing a game with the children? Is it sitting with your family enjoying the sunshine in the garden? Is it creating something together or by yourself?

What might study look like? Is it spiritual study or enquiring about something that has long held your thoughts? Is it writing letters to friends at this time?

What might exercise look like? At the moment we are able to go out with someone from your household for exercise. Does this look like a walk or a jog? Or maybe if you are in the high risk category it looks like a walk around the garden or some gentle jogging on the spot or a few sit ups – whatever you can do try to do.

And what does prayer look like for you at the moment? There are so many different ways of praying and it maybe that it takes time to find what works best for you. However and whatever you pray we still need to be intentional so that we can all continue to breathe together even though we are apart. If you can walk outside can you pray as you walk for the houses and businesses you pass?

Yesterday I took a walk around the Quays and the docks and it was very eerily quiet – there literally was no one there. It was as if this was the deep breath of God or of the world and we are now waiting for the out breath. As I walked I was reminded of the way in which when I went on silent retreat for the first time 10 years ago I noticed how my heart rate slowed and my breathing became slower. My movements were slower and more intentional as the world seemed to stop and sing. The world is stopping – or at least we are – but it is also singing. Spring is still happening; the world is still turning and the endless love of God for the whole of his creation goes on from age to age.

Keep breathing whilst we take a collective deep breath and I pray that each of you finds your way to breathe in this time.

with love and constant prayers

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10:00 Eucharist

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