The two most powerful acts of breathing occur at birth and death. Ours is a life journey from breathing in to breathing out. I have never been with a newborn taking their first breath. I have been with people taking their last breath, the final exhalation and the unearthly silence that follows when airborne the soul is released from the body. To witness the cessation of life is a breathtaking, awe–inspiring moment. Spirit is embedded in the word “inspire.”
At present, the world is confronted with a virus that attacks the respiratory system not only of individuals but of humanity as a whole. It is airborne and reeks havoc in the act of breathing in and breathing out. It attacks the lungs, the organs that relate in a most intimate and contradictory fashion with our fellow human beings. It is the most social organ with a most antisocial after effect. When in the same space with another person, we cannot help but inhale each other’s breath. But we also happen to poison the environment with our breathing out. The greatest threat is the breath of the other person right now.
The Greek word “pneuma,” as in pneumonia, has several meanings, air, wind, breath, spirit.
What is the present state of health of the breath, of the lungs of humanity, of the lungs of the earth? How much is the breath of humanity borne up by the spirit? How much is it weighed down, polluted by material concerns only? How can we enlist the help of the spirit to give us the inspirations needed to heal the lung organ, to heal the breath of the social body of humanity? Where can we find the source to help us create living social forms beyond the maintenance of our physical, material and transient existence? How can we come to breathe in concert with all who seek to affirm and manifest in thought, in word and in deed the reality of the spirit in each and every human being?
When He breathed his last on the cross, darkness fell upon the whole earth, enveloping it with a thundering silence. But when He appeared on the third day to the disciples as the Risen One, He breathed on them and said: “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
The Holy Spirit is the healing spirit, the world physician, the comforter, the counselor. The Holy Spirit is the breath of life the world needs. What a world we could create together when in our breathing in this holy, healing spirit we found one another breathing out together inspired not to take life, but to give life, spirit borne, world transforming life.
Contemplation by Rev. Gisela Wielki