The film Signs, starring Mel Gibson, is a profound meditation on the loss of faith. Employing the plot device of an alien invasion (not my favorite narrative arc), the story looks at the Hess family, which has been shaken by the brutal accidental death of its mother and wife.
Graham Hess, the father, an Episcopalian priest, has forsaken his calling and no longer believes, but the alien visitation forces him to look at issues from God’s perspective. The one scene in the film I find breathtaking is where the Hess family spends a night of terror in their boarded up farmhouse. When the attic is breached by an advance alien contingent, the family of father, uncle and two children retreat to the basement. This trauma sets off a severe asthma attack in Morgan, the son. The father holds his son, the child’s lungs swelling as he struggles for breath and life. “Breathe with me,” the father says. In and out, in and out, they labor for breath together. “Don’t be afraid, Morgan. Breathe with me. You and I are the same. Together, breathe with me.”
If you haven’t already seen this already, you need to rent this video.
During a time when I was meditating on Christ’s words from John 15:4, “Remain in me, and I will remain in you,” I thought about the Apostle John with his head on Christ’s breast during the Last Supper. When your head is that close to the body of another person, you can hear the heartbeat, feel the pulse; you are aware of breath being inhaled and exhaled.
I realized that when I pray, I should be resting my head against the breast of this One. I should hear the heartbeat, feel the feathery aspiration on my face. Not only this, I remembered Christ’s words from John 14:20, “I am in the Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.” When my head is on the breast of Christ (through meditation and prayer), my being tucked within His embrace, Christ’s head is also on the breast of God. The Son is enfolded within the embrace of the Father, and I within the embrace of the Son. Breathe, they say to me through the Holy Spirit. And in prayer we breathe together; in and out, in and out. You and I are the same. Don’t be afraid. Together. Breathe with me.
Sometimes life strikes blows. Terrors over which I have no control torment me. I fight for enough air. If I can just remember this sacred rhythm, one so subtle it is easy to forget, but if I can just remember to become one with Christ who is one with God, then it is as easy as breathing in and out, in and out. I have moved into the heart of the perichoresis koinonia, the theological term that infers that the Trinity is a fellowship of Three Holy Dancers; we have moved into the deepest part of the sacred Dance, where God is.
Other projects involving Karen Mains right now:
Karen Mains is currently involved in a mentor writing project involving teleconferencing. She has just finished a cycle with six “Wannabe (Better) Writers” and is brainstorming the effectiveness of her “Personal Memoir Writing” curriculum with that group. She and her husband, David, are hoping to lead a Christian trip to Kenya, Africa next March for the purpose of developing micro-enterprise projects.