"The breath you just took is a gift."
I am becoming aware of the truth of this statement more and more. It becomes more difficult to take life for granted when faced with the atrocities taking place in Gaza, Syria and many places around the world. The thought of innocent children being bombed in their sleep is enough to shake you out of apathy. At any moment life can be taken from you. A close friend of mine is in the hospital after a medical emergency that could have easily taken her life. She is still here and in the midst of sadness and worry about her condition I must be grateful. I must give thanks that she is still here and I am still here to witness her recovery.
Every breath is a gift, every single one. Every breath is a manifestation of grace that is at once beautiful and fragile. Here one moment and gone the next. We must surrender to this reality if we are to live life well. Denying our vulnerability does the world no good. Humility and gratitude are essential to a life well lived. Realizing the limitations of what we can do for ourselves opens our eyes to see all that is graciously given to us, providing us with opportunities to sink deeper into gratitude. We can do nothing to earn or deserve the breath of life. We cannot take life upon ourselves. It is given to us freely as an act of grace and love.
My favorite part of the creation story in the Bible is Genesis 2:7 "Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being." I love the imagery of God stooping down into the clay and personally breathing life into the first human being. It's a beautiful illustration that our very being is dependent upon another Source, that life is a gift freely given to be received in gratitude. Love has called us into being.
When I am tempted to fall into despair because of all the troubles in the world I remind myself that every single breath I take gives me another reason to say thank you. Every breath is a gift. What will I do with it? The powers that be seem invincible and ubiquitous, but certainly I can use my life to make a difference in the lives of others. The ability to be grateful in a world full of trouble saves us from the paralysis of despair and nudges us to use our gift for purposes far greater than securing our own comfort. Every now and then stop, be still, take a breath and recognize it for the miraculous gift that it is. Let everything that you do flow from this realization.
Following the Way,