Beside Restful Waters

by Gregory Hermann

“When the mystery of God’s love breaks through into my consciousness,

do I run from it?”

Kathleen Norris, Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith, 1999

as quoted by Fr. Richard Rohr

I am still reflecting over the past weeks, starting with ‘prayer as simple as breath’.

My challenge has been: is prayer really that simple? So, I have been practicing and observing. The results of this observation now sound a bit repetitive as I have shared several perspectives on methods of mindfulness, methods of being in the moment. Breath is one of the most obvious and fundamental methods of being present to the moment. A sip of water brings me to the moment. A taste of chocolate brings me to a moment.

This is a very rational understanding. Yet, why is it so difficult in times of emotional challenge or crisis? In times of anxiety, anger, shame, fear – mindful breath seems difficult. This is why ‘breath’ practice is a critical part of yoga. I am expanding this thought to making breath practice a critical part of life.

Last Saturday, Fr. Rohr’s weekly practice left me with a very practicable protocol:





Well, I have had to dust off my brakes because I don’t like to stop. I like to keep going and fight through stuff. You know, I’d rather tough it out and do it my way rather than waiting for some one else to instruct or direct me. You know, my way instead of the way of my Higher Power – God. Many of us know how this works for us – NOT!

Now, how does this relate to the statement above regarding an encounter with ‘the mystery of God’s love’?

So, when I read this statement, I did the stop-breath-reflect-respond thing. The first reflection was ‘mystery’. Mystery suggests that there is no rational, understandable answer or reason. YUCK! I like rational and understandable. I can be in control of stuff that is rational and understandable. I cannot control mystery. Engaging in mystery is definitely an act of faith.

Engaging in mystery is an act of faith.

Faith: do I act and run, or do I rest and respond?

There is an interesting realization about being 70 years old. It is too damn much work to run so I am physically forced to rest more often.

Oddly enough, there are good results, even with forced resting. Mystery becomes much more acceptable (is this because it takes too much energy for me to think?) I am finding it more acceptable to simply say that I don’t know, AND be OK with it.

I do not know. It is OK.

On the flip side, I am learning that accepting mystery often ends up as an important lesson, healing, moment of peace, recognition of grace…….. moment of intense love.

The Ojibwe concept of God is “Great Mystery”. I am coming to accept this as simple as breath.

Breath is life – a great mystery.

Water is life – a great mystery.

Fire (energy) is life – a great mystery.

Earth (corn, beans, squash etc.) is life – a great mystery.

Have a mysterious day.


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