Air… it is all around us, but we can’t see it or feel it… yet it is critical for sustaining our lives. No matter what time of year it is, I need to have the window partially open when I sleep. I crave that fresh air softly blowing through the room. I read that the average adult takes 12- 20 breaths of air per minute. The only time I really notice my breathing is when it becomes labored due to exercise or when I have a cold and am congested. Otherwise, it is just an automatic reflex.
In the Old Testament, we read that when God created Adam “He breathed the breath of life into the man’s nostrils and the man became a living person.” (Genesis 2:7) When a child is born, we wait for them to take in that first gulp of air and let out a lusty cry. God’s breath fills our lungs and life outside our mother’s womb has begun. His breath = a gift of life. What a powerful image.
In chapter 13, Lee speaks about her experience with a yoga class. Her therapist feels it would be a good experience for her as a tool to help her calm her anxieties and to learn to be aware of her own body. She finds all kinds of excuses to not follow through such as she doesn’t have the right clothes, she would have to be quiet and calm whereas she is naturally active and loud, she perceives it as a New Age practice and then, there is the issue of breathing. Listening to others breathe is weird to her and she is afraid she will make a spectacle of herself by laughing at other people in the class.
In spite of all her misgivings, she agrees to attend a Holy Yoga class led by a friend. The leader tells the class to take this time to be with the Lord as a spiritual practice. As Lee lies on the mat, focusing on her breathing, she begins to relax. She breathes in and out, and with each breath, she senses Gods presence and trusts that He is filling her with healing.
I have a friend who invited me to join her in a yoga session. In my younger days, I was very flexible and twisting my body into yoga poses would have been no problem. But with this body with all the extra lbs. and the added years, it was not so easy. I found myself frustrated and a bit embarrassed that I was struggling so much. I certainly did not find it to be a healing or spiritual experience as did Lee. I was more concerned with how I looked to others than in what I could gain from the class.
Lee poses the question about whether or not we feel more alive when we allow God to breathe on every part of our life. When I think about the properties of air, I visualize His breath seeping into every nook and cranny of my life…even the parts that I try to keep hidden. It is a bit like being in that yoga class… embarrassed that I am struggling to be like the others.
His breath does not overpower me like the rushing wind but is more of a gentle breeze on a spring day. it is calming and life giving to be reminded of His presence.
One of my favorite Christmas songs is Amy Grant’s “Breath of Heaven”. It is Mary sharing her feelings about being chosen by God to bear His Son. The chorus is so powerful and it is my prayer today…
“Breath of heaven Hold me together Be forever near me Breath of heaven Breath of heaven Lighten my darkness Pour over me your holiness For you are holy Breath of heaven”