Thursday, December 2nd
Then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being. ~ Genesis 2:7
Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, Jesus breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” ~ John 20:21-22
Every breath is a resurrection. ~ Gregory Orr
I am so fortunate to be able to breathe easily. I have heard of the very difficult and often frightening challenges faced by friends who have asthma or other respiratory troubles. One time as a child, I fell on my chest and had the “wind knocked out of me.” There were a few panicked moments when I could not draw my much-needed breath back into my lungs.
And for all of us, aren’t there times when we feel as if life has knocked the wind out of us? Yes, we are still breathing, but we wonder when we will be able to breathe freely, without worry or fear or dread or pain. We may find ourselves holding our breath as we await the possibility of bad news; we may gasp for air as we are overcome with exhaustion from immense challenges; or we may choke on our sobs in times of grief and sorrow. We feel as though we are lacking that breath of hope that gives us life in abundance.
Our Advent hope for today is found in knowing that God, through Jesus and the Spirit, will continue to breathe into us. The Spirit will breathe into us enough life, strength, patience, comfort – and hope – for the next moment, one breath at a time. Through all of our struggles and discomforts, the breath of life will continue to blow, every breath will offer a resurrection into new life. And in that moment when we breathe our last earthly breath, we will breathe in the new life of our complete and eternal resurrection. Hope is abundantly given to us with every breath we take.
As we think of this God-given, life-giving breath, I am reminded of the month after Jim’s heart surgery, when he was instructed to blow into an incentive spirometer to keep his lungs open and clear. Blowing out kept his lungs strong, ensured that his lungs would draw in more air, and prevented pneumonia. This provides another meaningful example for us: the more we learn to release and expend any of our pent-up air of worries or fears or anger, the more the Spirit is able to fully replenish us with the fresh air of goodness and love.
Today let’s take a few deep breaths throughout the day and imagine breathing in God. Thank God for the air we breathe, for each little resurrection, perhaps even for a scent or aroma that brings hope.
Breathe. How will you feel the breath of hope filling your soul today?
Prayer: God of all life, open my soul to breathe deeply of your goodness and hope today. Keep me from taking your breath of life for granted; keep me mindful of your presence. As I breathe in your hope-filled Spirit, fill me fully and freshly with the hope that may be shared with others today. Amen.