There is something about breath that is extremely spiritual. Breath means life. Breath means hope…
I think it is so interesting that breathing happens all on its own and yet it is something we can also choose to control. It is in how we do this that we can use it well or use it poorly. We can overcomplicate something that we never had to bother with messing with in the first place when we intervene unnecessarily. Used well, it settles our nervous system and can keep us grounded. Used poorly, we can become light headed and faint. So it is a tool at our disposal if we choose to use it.
While we can seem to harness this mechanism of our body, has the thought ever occurred to you, as it just has to me, that this is actually a false sense of control? That we are actually utterly dependent upon something else in order to even have air to breathe or the thought to do it in for 4 seconds and out for 8? That there is something not within my conscious control that determines whether or not I take my next breath. All of a sudden, like a veil being torn down on the little stage of my life, this thought made me feel so small. Like the camera lens zoomed out and instead of me being the focus of this film, all of a sudden, the director was visible through the view of the camera and I saw it, for the first time, that everything that I am, that I do, that I think, is part of something so much bigger. That every thought, every breath, every act is simply a response to Someone directing it all. He chooses to breathe out and from that, I get to breathe in.
There is this Christian worship song that quotes a scripture phrase “it’s your breath in our lungs.” Listening to this one day in a sort of prayerful state I had this image of God literally breathing His breath into my lungs, almost a CPR-like situation. It’s a bit graphic I suppose, but all of a sudden I was like, “Why not?” Why can’t every breath I take on this planet be a mouth to mouth decision of the Creator of the universe to keep me alive because He loves me and desires some work for me.
I’ll never forget when my lovely mentor and coach, Erin Ingold, said these words to me when I was in the pits of despairing over the belief that “I do not matter.” “Did you ever think about the fact that God loved you into existence and continues to will you into existence with every breath you take?”
There are many times when I feel very puffed up and proud of myself for a brilliant moment or for creating something where I saw nothing, but now I can’t not see it. The camera zooms out and suddenly, there is God setting it all in motion. The thing is, I have always had Him out of view. I thought I was the one who did all these good things, but suddenly I felt overcome with this sadness that I have been ignoring the One who had the idea in the first place! I felt confused and awful, while at the same time overcome with this immense joy. “It was You that whole time?!?!” Hah! Every good thing I have ever done becomes a celebration of the immensity of God’s love for me, spilling His goodness all over me, dousing me in His grace. The fun I had in doing these creative things was because the Source of the gift was at play! Joy is the sign of God’s grace in our lives.
Isn’t it funny? Ask your guardian angel to help you zoom out a little bit today? Who’s idea was it that you take a breath today? Surely not yours, because you would have no way of reversing it should your body choose to stop. But perhaps you have no problem taking the credit like me? How fun would it be though, if all of life was simply this beautiful back and forth? A call and response? The call of the Lover to His beloved? How fun would it be if we knew we were staying in His rhythm, His will, by the joy we felt in our hearts?
Is that not prayer?
“In prayer, the faithful God’s initiative of love always comes first; our own first step is always a response. As God gradually reveals himself and reveals man to himself, prayer appears as a reciprocal call, a covenant drama.” Catechism of the Catholic Church 2567
Great Are You Lord – All Sons & Daughters (Official Live Concert)