A few days into my Sabbatical I got the worst cold I have ever had. The physical aches, pains and down right misery that a bad cold makes you feel, were the obvious outlets for the long accumulated and residual stress stored in my hidden, way down deep soul place. I was living proof that we are all intricately woven together by our Creator…everything is connected. As awful as I felt, there was this companioning gratitude that sabbatical was giving me time and space, that is definitely not the norm, to be as sick as I was and take as long as I needed to heal. I had never experienced a holy misery like this before and wasn’t so sure how to navigate it.Nothing gave me the soothing care that you need when your head feels the size of a watermelon, like keeping a steaming hot mug of tea in my hands, holding it up close to my face and sipping now and then. I unwrapped what seemed to be the millionth teabag and couldn’t help but laugh at what I saw. The name of the tea was Breathe Deep and on the little white tag attached to the teabag were the words: “Socialize with compassion, kindness and grace.”I know it’s sounds superficial and silly but I didn’t dismissively roll my eyes for some reason. Instead I felt a tug, a curiosity to read it again. What if I actually did what it said? No one else was around so I couldn’t pass it off in jest with someone else. I took the challenge. First of all, “Breathe Deep” was the name of the tea so I stood there and took several long deep breaths. Breathing is obviously essential to life yet is so dismissed ,as if there is no worth paying it any attention. Our very breath can actually be a simple reminder of the gift of live we so take for granted. It can be the very thing within us that can remind us of the Spirit of God with in us. It was a powerful and comforting reminder for me that day. God is as close as my breath. He isn’t way out there waiting to be beckoned. Taking deep breaths can be a true spiritual exercise to help honor the God designed connection between our body and soul. It can be so revealing of the stress we kept pent up inside and it is the provision of something so simple to relieve the stress that is so damaging to our body and soul. It’s body care to breathe. It’s soul care to breathe. Awareness of God isn’t as complicated as we make it sometimes. Deep breaths gave me a sacred awareness of God right there in the kitchen with me. His name, after all is Immanuel, God with us.The little tag read “socialize with compassion”. Compassion means ‘to suffer with’. God is Compassion. He knows suffering and is with us in our suffering. I want to socialize, to be in that kind of company. I want to be a person who suffers with others, to show up and tell them that I am sorry they are suffering whether I can help relieve their suffering or not. The tag also read “Socialize with kindness and grace”. God is always expressing his kindness to me. His amazing grace is, to me, more than just the words to a favorite hymn. He is kind to give me a life filled with so much that I am undeserving of. I was stirred by my desire to socialize, interact with and be acquainted with this unconditional grace and kindness. I want it to be more than my theology; I want to be kindness and grace with skin on.Surprised by an encounter with God through a teabag, as silly as that may be, is an encounter that continues to inspire me to breath in, to keep company with, to socialize with God’s compassion, kindness and grace. It always helps to read the directions and this is especially true when making tea and caring for one's soul.