(Re)Learning to breathe

Clara trying not to breath (Doctor Who - 'Deep Breath')
Clara trying not to breathe (Doctor Who – ‘Deep Breath’)

One of my favorite science fiction shows is Doctor Who and one of my favorite actors in the show is Peter Capaldi. He played the twelfth regeneration of the Doctor and was introduced to the role in 2004. His first full episode as the Doctor was titled ‘Deep Breath’ – the antagonists were robots who disguised themselves as people. Their true nature was revealed when the Doctor and Clara (his companion) realized that the robots were not doing something that every human being does: breathing.

Shortly afterwards, Clara is trapped in a room alone with the robots and must hide herself among them. So she takes a deep breath and tries to escape. As you might imagine, it doesn’t last and she is discovered when she must gasp for air. Happily, the robots are eventually overpowered and defeated with the help of the Doctor and friends.

Lately it feels like we’ve all been holding our breath – waiting for the latest cancellation of public services, anticipating the unavailability of our favorite events, or just bracing for the latest development. Whether it is a news cast, official proclamation, or even a letter for your pastor, it doesn’t quite feel safe to breath…..even when we’re the recommended six feet away from each other!

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A Lenten Reboot

Before I was ordained, one of my on-again, off-again past-times was computer tech support. Often under the guise of a ‘small problem’, I would get that familiar call: “my computer is [insert malfunction here], would you take a look at it?”. Before I would come over, I quickly learned to request that the owner reboot their computer – the all-purpose on-off maneuver. The majority of the time, that simply act would clear whatever error was occurring.

In the ordinary course of Lent each year, I find that I have to reboot my Lenten practices at least once….but usually several times. Sometimes the ‘small problem’ that I could easily identify was just that.  A fresh start after accidentally eating meat on a Friday, watching the television I had given up, or otherwise mis-stepping in a little way was easily remedied by recommitting myself to prayer and discipline.

Other times, I found that that ‘small problem’ opened the door to deeper needs that lay hidden or even ignored in my heart and in my spiritual life. It isn’t always pleasant to have wounds or nerves exposed, but the invitation is always to a great conversion, to a more intimate relationship with Jesus.

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