I was trying to comfort my teenage niece over the phone as she worked through an anxious moment. The best I could offer her on that late-night call was a strategy I know from experience: the 5-4-3-2-1 exercise. As she listened to my quiet voice and found her breath, I guided her to think about things she could see, touch, and experience, making them reassuring signs she would be okay. “Find five things you see around you. A pillow, a picture frame, whatever,” I said. As she named items aloud, she began feeling steadier. “Name four things you can reach out and touch.” She continued with three, two, and one, using her senses to ground her and return her to a calm state.
Naming tangible things we see around us reassures us and grounds us in the present. Noting what we can touch helps us feel centered when circumstances feel overwhelming.
I don’t know why the psalmist names the sun rising in the sky each morning and setting each evening. Maybe it helps to remember that the largest thing we see each day—the powerful sun and the wide sky—are under the reign of God, who made them. Maybe naming this predictable rhythm to each day reminds us of a sure thing. Perhaps the psalmist wants to name God as the maker of this huge gift of a sun. We can’t be sure.
What I do know is the truth of what my friend says on a day when she feels like life is out of control. “The sun is still in the sky. That’s all I’ve got.” She finds comfort in claiming that no matter what else happens, some rhythms continue. She can still breathe; she will be okay. I think the psalmist understands.
How do you ground and center yourself in times when you feel anxious? How do you know God’s presence in these moments?
God who made the sun and its rhythms, center us in your reassuring presence. Amen.