Rhythmic Living

The Redemptive Power of Living in Circles

Here I am again.

Here I am, in this spot I told myself I’d never be.

How often have you had this thought?

Here I am waking up to a dirty kitchen, to a bitter mind, to unclear priorities or an unwritten to-do list. Here I am overwhelmed by the responsibilities I agreed to, by the opportunities I can’t choose between, by, frankly, my own failures.

I thought I’d made progress, but apparently I didn’t, because here I am.

If that’s you, if you’re there right now: Breathe.

No, really: feel your breath come in and fall out.

How many times do you do this, every day, this simple act of circulating air? You don’t even notice it most of the time, but it’s there, sustaining your life: in and out, in and out.

This week I watched a video on meditating—I recommend it; it’s a great, succinct guide to the physiological impact of focused breathing. But the point that struck me most in what the narrator said was this: “The whole game is to notice when you’ve gotten lost, and to start over.”

The whole game is to notice when you’ve gotten lost, and to start over.

That does not just apply to meditating. And the circles in our lives extend beyond our breath.

Morning turns to evening turns to morning, our bellies become empty and then full and then empty, January returns to December by way of May and September, and we feel ourselves move forward but then fall back again.

But notice this carefully—it’s very important, and it marks the difference between Sisyphus and us: we never return to exactly the same place.

Every day, God weaves the intricate dance of people, animals, places and things into patterns never quite seen before. Every breath we take flows out of a body just slightly different than the one it entered moments before.

And every time we think we’ve ended up just where we started: we haven’t. We’ve moved: in time, in space, in knowledge, in capacity for love or kindness or understanding.

God’s mercies are new every morning.

So, next time that “Here I am again” feeling sets in, my prayer for you (and for me) is that we would recognize: every morning, every evening, every minute of the day, by the grace of God we have the opportunity to notice that we’ve gotten lost… and to start over.

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