A late March snow empties from the sky, gentle benediction on stilled earth. Benediction breathes beauty, and beauty breathes life into my soul.
And as I walk, I'm struck by how hushed the earth is in its delicate fullness~ flower budding, waters surging, snow falling, animals birthing ~ all life coming to, never questioning, never resisting. As I inhale each breath of life-swell, I am conscious only of that, only of breathing. And somehow in all this "living" I do, I forget to breathe; I'm feverish with trying to figure it all out. Is that even living? Is living about getting it all straight, putting all the pieces together- every day cramming and flattening life into conformity?
I do this crazy thing when I exercise sometimes: I forget to breathe. It must not be too uncommon, as I have been in many fitness classes where the instructor has to remind everyone to "Keep breathing!" And I know I do that in life sometimes; when obstacles mount, when oppression suffocates, I forget to breathe. Instead of breathing deeper and more fully, I lose my breath.
So I just stand there in all that beauty and breathe deep. Breathe deep the stillness, breathe deep the hush, breathe deep the benediction.
I birthed nine babies into this world, panting hard and anxiously awaiting first life breaths- that sucking in of air, inflating lungs and coursing blood ...and they breathed, and they cried. They Cried! No longer were they in that watery sanctuary where all was done for them, all was effortless. They had to be on their own. They had to learn to breathe, and breathing can hurt.
Breathing hurts. Letting go of control and giving to God, being still in the center of the storm, waiting...just breathing... can throb. Like the runner, cramped with an air bubble, I so desperately need that breath that will cause me to double in pain.
Every moment of our lives we must give birth and be reborn; we birth surrender and are born continuously into God's grace and love, the eternal breath. And with each breath we may have to pant, with each rebirth we may cry out, helpless newborns squalling.
I come to the steep part of my walk, and I am full of breath. I begin to run, just run crazy up that hill so I can get breathless. I want the need to breathe, to empty out so I can let it all in. Because sometimes we actually live life fullest when we're out of breath and breathing hardest.
It is beginning to snow, and I lie on the ground and look up. "You're a nut, Mom," John Paul said when he saw the pictures. Maybe I just don't care what anyone thinks anymore, and maybe I found a way to let go and live deeper and more fully- a way that truly sustains my soul. I look up at those trees all stately gracing, and snowflakes land gently on my face. I open my camera and attempt to get a picture of the snowflakes landing on my pants and jacket. The lens cannot capture the intricacies of the snowflakes, but I see something else.
Each snowflake, every single one, explodes before it melts. Looking through the camera lens, I am captivated by these miniature explosions, happening over and over! And I'm thinking that that's how I have to be; before I can run free, before I can melt before God in surrender, I must get rid of self. I must explode all preconceived notions of who I am or what I need and just be. Be in His presence, be in His grace, inhaling and exhaling, respiring life. Breathing.