Breath of Life—Prayerful Tuesday

Genesis 1:1-2, 2:7  1:1 In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, 2the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.

2:7 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.

Amos 8:11 The time is surely coming, says the Lord God, when I will send a famine on the land; not a famine of bread, or a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord.

Have you ever been unable to breath?  I mean you just couldn’t get air into your lungs.  I have several friends who suffer from Asthma and they tell me it is the most frightening thing to happen to them.  Without air we can’t live.  It is the first requirement of life, the first thing we do upon birth is to take that first breath and the last thing we do at our passing is to let the last breath go.

Genesis tells us that air is the first gift God gave to the earth. I mean it says so right there in the second verse, “a wind from God swept over the face of the waters” and then in chapter 2 God brings man to life by breathing into his nostrils, breath is life.  Without air we don’t live.  Breath, ruach, spirit, is the palpable presence of God in our lives.

I guess that is what makes Amos’ words so scary to me. If the God I trust to be there when I am frightened tells me that She will no longer come to me, that she is separating himself from me that means no air, no breath, no spirit  to enliven my life.  I mean you can’t have words without breath and no words means no breath of God, no life.

With every inhalation we partake of God’s gift of life and with every exhalation we give back life.  We have been doing it since our first breath at birth and will continue until we release our last breath at our dying.  Breathing is a sacred act of life giving; it is the ultimate communion with God and each other.  Turn to the person next to you and watch them breathe, the air they release is the air you take in and the air you release is the air they take in.  Breathing is the most intimate act of our lives.  Breathing connects us to all life, past, present, and future life.

Every breath we take has been blowing across this earth since God blew the wind across the waters.  With ever inhalation we breathe there is a molecule of air breathed, and passed on to us, by Jesus on the cross, Moses as he spoke to the burning bush, Sarah as  she delivered Isaac, Dinosaurs, Amos, even Hitler.  We breathe air given to us as a life gift and how we use it depends on us.

This week I ask that you think about breathing and contemplate who is sharing your breath.  Breathe deeply, take each breath into your lungs and feel the life fill you as your lungs inflate.  Treat each breath as the gift from God that it is, and grace each exhalation with a gift of your own gratitude.  Offer a prayer for those who struggle to breathe and remember how much their life, and yours, depends on the breath of God.  Treat the air as sacred and refrain from fouling it with contaminants.  With every breath you take this week let it be a prayer of thanks to God for the breath of life given at the beginning of time.

Ruth Jewell, ©February 10, 2015

Shadows – All Hallows Eve, and All Saints Day

Do you ever wonder what happens to shadows?  I do, sometimes.  I mean where do they go when the sun goes away?  I have lots of shadows that follow me.  I know they are there even though it’s dark and I can’t see them.  It’s like the monsters under the bed. I know they are there even if I shine a light, I know, you see they skitter into the dark corners where the light never goes.

All Hallows Eve is the beginning of the time of year I have the most difficulty with.  These last two months of the year are thin times when memories and shadows come out of the woodwork of my mind. Yes I have shadows and whether good or bad they are there, a part of me, that follows me wherever I go, whatever I do. And I see more shadows every year and they make me sad for what is gone and what I will never see again.

Dad, 18 years old
Dad, 18 years old

There is the shadow that is my father, once tall and strong He carried my on his shoulders and let me snuggle with him in church, and showed me the beauty of the stars and the light show that is the Aurora Borealis. Dad was the one who said “Ruth, you can accomplish whatever you want all you have to do is dream and then go for it.”  He encouraged me, me his scarred and damaged child, to ride horses, plow a field, drive a farm truck when I was twelve, and hold puppies and kittens in arms with all the love I could give.  He taught me to count by having me feed weanling calves, and gave me a bull calf as pet.  In his eyes I could do anything and I could. Even when Dad became ill, and weak, I could still see his strong shadow standing beside him.  At his death his shadow faded into the wind and while wisps of him cling to my memory he has become a distant shadow.

Mom, 18 years old
Mom, 18 years old

Then there is the shadow of my mother.  A lion hearted woman, who fought for me with ever fiber of her being.  This was the woman who fearlessly took on the school board to make sure that I, her oldest daughter, would enter school at age 6. You see I had been badly injured the previous June and was still recovering and the school didn’t want to “deal” with a “disabled” child.  But I started school on time, all because my Mom had the heart of a lioness and you didn’t mess with Mama Lion.

The shadows have followed me, are following me, wherever I go as I travel this path that leads to whatever life will give me. Some are old friends, some not so friendly, but they are mine just the same.  Whenever I turn around I see them jump into those corners.  I see just a hint of them, small smudges of dark, and gray.  For many years I was afraid of the dark, the shadows that lurk there, but, not anymore.  Today I look for them as reminders of days past, friends cherished and lost, puppy hugs and kitten kisses.

Mom and Pippin, 1988
Mom and Pippin, 1988

Today I see them for what they are, memories, shadows that cannot hurt me unless I let them.  I no longer let the shadows rule over me, rather I let them watch as I face the life I have chosen and do what I feel to be right.  I am learning not to let them make me feel guilty for long ago actions that I cannot change and from which I learned much.  I will let the Shadows stay in the dark and I will light a candle to chase them into the corners. Jesus said no one hides their light under a bushel and He’s right.  To hide my light is to let the shadows rule and I’d rather I placed my light in the open to show me the way to go and to keep the dark, the shadows at bay.

Ruth Jewell, ©October 31, 2014