Some of our students are a week into school, while others are enjoying a few more days of vacation. As the school year begins, our students are facing another year filled with uncertainty in addition to the normal back-to-school worries. Some are worried about going to new schools; some are concerned about new academic pressures; and others just want to make a friend. Our children are navigating this strange world as their teachers, administrators and families balance worries around health, safety and community.
In the midst of those worries, it can be hard to slow down. Almost impossible to hear our own minds, let alone feel God’s presence. I like to remind our students that God is as close as the very breath we breathe. We can remember that God placed our breath within us every time we inhale and exhale. With some care, each breath can become a prayer. A short moment to slow down, put aside our worries, and remember that God is close by.
One of my favorite practices to share with our children are breath prayers. Using a short verse of scripture, the line is split, with the first half of the verse said while you inhale, and the second half is said as you exhale. As you practice, you may want to add a three or four second pause between your inhale and exhale, and allow your body and mind to rest with each breath.
Here are some examples of Breath Prayers:
Breathe in: Be still and know
Breathe out: That I am God.
Breathe in: I can do all things
Breathe out: through Christ who strengthens me.
Breathe in: The Lord is my shepherd.
Breathe out: I shall not want.
Breathe in: Nothing in all of creation
Breathe out: can separate me from the love of God.
Breathe in: Be strong and courageous.
Breathe out: The Lord is with you wherever you go.
Breathe in: You are the potter.
Breathe out: I am the clay.
Breathe in: Create in me a clean heart O God.
Breathe out: Renew a right spirit within me.
If you have a special child in your life, you may want to share a breath prayer with them and commit to saying that prayer at a particular moment of the day. That way, while they are at school, they can share a prayer with you.
So we pause at the beginning of the year, and breathe in, remembering the graces that God has extended to each one of us, and breathe out knowing that God will hold our worries and our way through the year to come.
May God bless each of our children, our teachers, and their families in the days and months ahead.