Saturday, August 16, 2014

Smoke Break

Today, I watched as an employee at a local retail store took a well-deserved smoke break on a bench just outside the front doors. She was disengaged from the busyness around her, enjoying the breezy afternoon with just enough sun to be comfortable. With each puff, she seemed to take in a dose of stillness. She seemed so…calm.

I’m old enough to remember the days when it was normal for businesses to allocate time for their employees to take a “smoke break” as one of the company benefits. Smoking was all the rage, but only the cool people smoked, and I certainly wanted to be cool.

Remember the Marlboro Man?

Okay, I admit I tried smoking back when I was a teenager (sorry, Mom) but didn’t like it very much. Thankfully, it’s not a habit which interested me. As a result, you may consider me odd but I looked up “how to smoke” on Google. (Ironically, my teenage daughter caught me and seemed wary of my excuse that it was blog research. But that’s another story.)

I’m thinking I want this sense of…calm…when I’m praying.

The Google smoking instructions contained five basic steps:

1) Flame
Obviously, lighting up requires well, a light. Fire is required for smoke.

So many times I am pushed to the limit with feeling out of control in my life that a touch of heat…a flame…a scorch of awareness…is all I need to remember God is really the one in control. It’s a good way to get started in prayer.

2) Inhale a Little
The instructions mentioned it best to inhale just a little bit of smoke, slowly, so as to avoid singeing your throat, and to give yourself a chance to taste the cigarette.

Taking in only a little of the Bible at a time helps me to get a deeper sense of what God wants to say. Recently, I have been reading the book of Proverbs, one chapter at a time, and then selected a single verse in that chapter for reflection. I am able to apply that one verse more tastefully than if I simply sucked in the entire chapter.

3) Hold
The next step is to hold some of the smoke in your mouth, for enjoyment.

Reminding myself of the single verse at various times during the day gave me a chance to savor the lesson. The other day, Proverbs verse reminded me to “guard my heart” and it helped me stay calm when I felt overwhelmed about preparing for my schedule the following day.

4) Inhale Further
Next, the smoke is to be inhaled all the way down to the lungs.

Sometimes, the message I learned the day before (such as the “guard my heart” reminder) needs to get deep into my being. I decided to dwell on it for the next couple days as well. It made a difference.

5) Let Go
Finally, there are various ways to demonstrate your “coolness” by the stylistic way to let go and blow out the smoke.

For me, this means to let go of what I think I can control and simply breathe out my own efforts to let God work instead.

Thinking through these steps, I inhaled a dose of peace instead of tobacco. Drew in some stillness. Exhaled some stress. When I returned to my work later that day, I was more productive and energized.

And I was as cool as the Marlboro Man.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Lisa, I liked the parallels that you drew and how you applied your "research" to inhale the good and exhale the bad. Steph