The Breath of God

A small, wooden flute,an empty, hollow reed,rests in her silent hand. it awaits the breathof one who creates songthrough its open form. my often-empty liferests in the hand of God;like […]

A small, wooden flute,
an empty, hollow reed,
rests in her silent hand.

it awaits the breath
of one who creates song
through its open form.

my often-empty life
rests in the hand of God;
like a hollowed flute,
it yearns for the melody
which only the Breath can give.

Breath…what is breath? How do we breathe? I know well the physiology and biology of breathing, but when I look deeply at breath, it still seems like quite a mystery.

Recently I had the pleasure of playing my Native American-style flutes in several events, so I had to get them all out and practice. It is such a joy to go outside and just play to whatever is in front of me, the sky, fields, birds, trees, and animals. Each flute is unique and has a different feel, a different character. Each flute uses my breath in a different way, the smaller flutes requiring less breath, and the larger flutes more breath in order to get the most beautiful, clear sounds.

The Native American flute is just a hollow tube of wood open on each end with 5 or 6 finger holes. Without the breath, it just sits there looking beautiful, but no sound is produced. I must put my breath into the flute, allowing the breath to vibrate the wood, and create the sound and the song. No breath, no song; just a dead piece of wood.

Genesis 2:7 says, “God breathed into the (human’s) nostrils the breath of life, and the (human) became a living being.” The Hebrew word for breath, ruach, is a feminine noun which also translates as wind, and Spirit. Her breath was a living Wind, a Spirit that filled the newly created human and enlivened it, from the inside out. The human was filled with the breath, wind, and Spirit of the Creator. It is this breath, this Spirit that moves through us, enlivens us, and vibrates us into life and action.

Jesus’ good news is that Spirit is as close to me as my breath, closer even than that. Spirit is within all of my empty spaces. God is suddenly as available and accessible as the very thing I do constantly —breathe. All people breathe the same way. There is no Christian or Islamic way to breathe. There is no rich or poor way to breathe. The air of the earth, this spirit, (ruach=breath/wind), this divine wind “blows where it will” (John 3:8)–which is everywhere!

I am most able to vibrate and beautifully sing with the breath of God when I am that hollow flute, that simple husk that allows God’s breath to move through me unimpeded. When I stop and recognize that God’s breath and mine are one, then I know that there is no separation between us. I know our flowing breath can sing, can dance, and can even move mountains. Think of the power of the breath, of the wind, how over time it wears down mountains, creates waves on the ocean, and bends unbendable trees. That power of Spirit is within us all the time, if we just recognize that oneness.

So, just breathe! God is as close to us as our breath! Our breath is our prayer; we pray by being mindful of our breath, by being mindful of the presence of Spirit in our breath.

At first, find moments throughout your day when you can stop, be in the present moment, and just take a couple deep breaths with the intention of tuning in to God. These moments can be very brief but will become a wonderful oasis in the midst of your busyness.

Next, purposely set aside a few minutes each day; be still and become aware of your breath; let your breath lead you into deeper stillness, deeper silence. Breathe and be still with the intention of tuning in to the Spirit’s vibrations. Let your thoughts dissipate. Focus on letting your breath be the breath of God connecting and flowing through you. Feel that breath of God connecting you with ALL, connecting you to the great web of God’s creation, to all people, animals, plants, planets, stars, and on and on. Feel the great expanding breath, your breath, God’s breath, together moving gently in and out, moving the great web, all interconnected, Spirit present in all the spaces. Be silent and listen with the ear of your heart. End with gratitude and peace. Begin with 5 minutes and gradually work up to 20-30 minutes most days, if you can.

May you and Spirit breathe beautiful music into this wonderful world!

the small wooden flute and I,
we need the one who breathes,
we await one who makes melody.

and the one whose touch creates,
awaits our empty, ordinary forms,
so that the song-starved world
may be fed with golden melodies.

Instruments of God” by Sister Joyce Rupp

-Rita Simon

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