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  • Writer's pictureFranciscans

Holy Spirit: Breath of Life

Something that took me by surprise this year: the power of simply breathing. Breathing was one of the creative actions in the beginning.

  Then the Lord God formed man

  from the dust of the ground, and

breathed into his nostrils the 

breath of life;

  and man became a living soul. 

The fascinating thing about breathing is that it is healing and life-giving, but it also happens naturally and without conscious awareness. It is the first thing a newborn does when they enter into this world: gasp, breathe. And then wail! Their own unique 'cantos' into the world. But it all begins with an inhale, and exhale. You can observe as the tiny baby sleeps: even she knows how to breathe beautifully as her round tummy rises and falls in rhythm, like the ebbs and flows of the ocean's tides.

How can something so spontaneous and natural and unconscious become so important, and require practice and such conscious effort as an adult, touched as we are by the anxieties of this world? Maybe it is like so many other aspects of who we are: a pilgrim people, something like exiles, discovering that the homeland we earnestly seek is not far beyond somewhere, but indeed is 'within'. 

  Nor will they say "Behold, here it is!"

  or "There!" for behold, the kingdom of God

  is within you

In struggle, pain, joy and everything in between, we return to our breath (the Holy Spirit: life-source and Creator) within us, like returning to our home after some time away. It's difficult to know or really prepare for what will come in our futures. The one thing we can know and hold on to is that life, and breath, and healing, and creativity, and God, are within us. Inhaling and exhaling, in a constant, life-giving dance. 


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