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The breath of God

The breath of God

The breath of God

27 December 2021

By Jo-Anne Brown

Breathe. Simply notice your breath, the feel of air moving into your nostrils, into your lungs, and out again. Take some deep breaths, breathing in, breathing out. Slow down your breathing. Breathe in for a count of four, hold for a moment or two, breathe out for a count of six.

As you breathe, notice what you want to let go of and what you would like to receive. On the next breath out, exhale, release stress, anxiety, tension, fear. What would you like to receive instead? On your next breath in, consciously inhale what you would like to receive – peace, stillness, clarity, joy. Take a few more breaths in this way. As you breathe out, release. As you breathe in, receive.

It is God who first breathed the breath of life into a human being, in an act of deep, present intimacy. As we breathe, we are breathing in the breath of God that has been breathed in, and out, countless times, around the globe, mingling with the air in the atmosphere, the wind that stirs the desert dust, the breezes that drive the waves of the ocean, the air that moves the trees in the forest, rustling their leaves.

The breath leaves our lungs, joins all the breaths that have ever been breathed, and circulates back into our nostrils again.

Continue to notice the breath you are allowing to move in and out of your body, And as you do so, reflect. What is wind? What is this invisible element we call air? How do we notice it, breathe it in? How do we move in air?

As we move our bodies through air, through the space around us, we are like the trees blowing in the wind, allowing the breezes to move them first in this way, then in that way. As we speak, sound carries on waves of air, carrying our speech, our song, our music to others. Without the soundwaves created by air, there would be no music, no speech.

Air is the one element that is invisible – but shapes and influences all things ... makes everything else come alive. We notice air through the way it engages with all else and enables and enhances movement. Air, as wind, can be destructive or refreshing/soothing/healing. It is within us, around us. It is uncontainable – it can both be held and not held. It gives us life.

In the Narnia Chronicles, it is Aslan, the God-figure, who breathes on the creatures who had been turned to stone, and one by one, as his warm breath touches them, they come back to life. When Narnia is first created, Aslan breathes into the creatures he has made, and they become speaking, talking, rational beings. When the Pevensie children become anxious and fearful, it is Aslan’s breath that breathes hope, courage and strength into them. The breath of Aslan, the lion that is no tame lion, speaks to us of the breath of God. The breath that is life-giving, encouraging (gives courage), in-spiriting (restores our spirit). You might like to spend some time reflecting on your own experiences of this sacred breath.

And let us come back to our own breath – our most intimate experience of the element of air. As we breathe in and out, notice what prayer is rising up within us. It might just be a word or two that can be breathed in and then out. Be still. Take some time to explore the breath prayer that is waiting to be breathed into you. God’s breath is life, intimacy, presence. The breath of Jesus is spirit, courage and hope.

Major Jo-Anne Brown is a retired Salvos officer in Queensland.

 

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