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The Breath of the Spirit and Gratitude

by | Nov 16, 2021

Thanksgiving is upon us and then Advent and Christmas will follow. This time of the year offers us an opportunity to reflect, remember and reassess many aspects of our life.  We think of gratitude during Thanksgiving, all the parts of our life for which we are grateful.  In my immediate and extended family breath has taken on a renewed awareness.  Covid touched our family in unexpected ways and the value of breath was ever more significant. 

The breath of the Spirit noticed and treasured in prayers for recovery and health, for grief and compassion.  Noticing the presence of the breath and movement of the Spirit in worry and then relief from worry.  Gratitude that some Covid symptoms were very mild while others were much more significant.  The gift of oxygen for breath was treasured.  The Hebrew word for breath is Ruach and means breath, spirit and wind and it appears in the Old Testament nearly 400 times.  In Job 12:10 it says “In His hand is the life of every living thing and the breath (Ruach) of all mankind”.  This passage is describing the breath of every human being.  What an amazing moment to pause with the deepest gratitude for our very breath and that of our sisters and brothers.

Where or when do you pause to notice your breath, to take a deep breath to refresh the body, or to yawn to bring more oxygen to the brain?  We take our first breath when we are born and our last breath when we die. Scripture uses the word Ruach to describe our physical breath and God’s Spirit.  You may have noticed in the New Testament Ruach is translated from Greek as “pneuma”.  After Jesus gave His Spirit to God, he breathed His last breath. When we align our breath with Spirit, the Spirit wants us to understand how close we are to God and how God (Spirit) sustains our very existence. God gives us life-sustaining breath. 

This is poignant for this time of the year and living through Covid in our family.  God has been close. I had many conversations with God and yet God was and is as close as the breath in my lungs, in your lungs, especially when we are faced with life’s challenges. Our breathing is evidence of God (Spirit) who is present in our now moment. We are breathing because God is present and gives the breath of the Spirit to us.  Cherish your breath and with gratitude, especially at this time of the year. 

Hold space for our sisters and brothers who have cried out to breathe. Ignatian spirituality tells us that God is present in our world and also in our lives.  God is present in all things and calls us to be a witness to the joy of the Gospel, the Gospel that calls us to notice the breath in the cry of the poor, the cry of the earth, the cry of our sisters and brothers and the cry within our families, to experience the breath of the Spirit. Take a breath and notice….