The Merriam-Webster Dictionary has 13 different definitions for the word to Breathe.
Watching someone struggle to breathe brings it’s necessity clearly into focus. Each breath is an intense labor, the exhausting kind of work that leaves it’s victim pale and wasted. Is there anything more important than drawing a breath?
Sometimes it feels that I’ve forgotten how to breathe.
It was so easy as a child, when cares were few and days were endless, to draw breath to climb a tree, run up a hill, laugh until I cried, sing at the top of my voice.
I notice when I work with voice students that invariably when I ask them to breathe, their shoulders go up and they gasp in a huge breath and almost get blue in the face taking in air. I remind them, gently, that this is a desperation breath. The kind that we take when we are chased by lions- but not really helpful to making a lovely singing sound!
How did we forget how to breathe as adults?
Was it the demands of a culture that asks us to get things done, hurry up, run the yellow light, drive through rather than sit down, be anonymous, make the instant rice? Can you hear me now?
Maybe bigger, better and faster has led us down the path of breathlessness.
What if we just… stopped. Take your hand off the mouse right now- stop whatever you’re doing and just be aware of your breath. Go ahead- do it! Take several deep breaths and slowly- very slowly blow them out. Begin to feel the tightness that you’ve been holding in your shoulders melt away. Begin to feel that this is your life, in the good places and the scary places. You deserve to have the breath you need. It is your gift from the one who created you.
A great song by Michael W. Smith called “Breathe”
this is the air I breathe, this is the air I breathe
Your holy presence living in me
this is my daily bread, this is my daily bread
Your very word spoken to me
And I, I’m desperate for you. And I, I’m lost without you…
In the bible -John 20:21-22 to be exact, it says:
21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” 22 When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.