I sat in a room at Christopher House. The air was cold, the room was silent and a man seemed peaceful as he breathed in and out. He had been struggling for such a long time to claim the breath he needed to live. I watched him breathe in and out and then forget to breathe in again or seemingly forget to release the breath again. His breathing spoke to me of the way we live our lives for so many years.
I thought of all the years we spend chasing life—breathing shallowly in the rush of commitments or in attempting to produce the effects we feel we need to if we are to succeed in the world. I thought of all the moments we are so breathless and exhausted that we don’t remember to breathe in again the gift of Life. And I thought of times when we hold our breath – uncertain about what steps we need to take. The times when we get devastating news and can’t absorb or process so we hold our breath as if to give ourselves a moment before responding.
Someone recently said to me: ‘Why do you need to learn how to breathe? I thought it was natural.” “Yes”, I said, “but we have created a life that challenges the natural and then we have to learn what it is to breathe all over again.”
As I watched this man dying, I thought of my own life now. It is time to breathe out again. Not from exhaustion, but as a breath of blessing. It is an expression of deep love for our world and all who dwell in our world.
So whether you are struggling to breathe or knowing how to breathe, be aware of the gift of Life in you and the giver of Life inviting you to truly live again.
He died last night—a final breath out—blessing his family and friends. A breath of surrender into the heart of God.