I spent a lot of time last week during my time at Mercy Center engaged with my breathing. Breathing is something most of us take for granted, until we are sick, or are struggling with it. We all tell each other to “breathe” or to “keep breathing.” when we are anxious are angry. We “take a deep breath” to center ourselves before we start something important, or to help us focus. It is an important biological truth that deep breathing calms our limbic system (the more “lizard brain” primitive part of ourselves.) and helps us ground and center. It helps us connect with our bodies, our humanity, and our divinity.
One of our great Christian spiritual teachers, Thomas Merton suggests that “Breathing is actually a form of prayer- a pathway to the Divine.”
Merton goes on to say that in the Hebrew Bible and New Testament-- breath as “ruach” (in Hebrew), or “pneuma” (in Greek) refers to the spirit or soul. Mystics from the major spiritual traditions have long understood that the breath holds the secret to communication with the Holy. With that in mind, it shouldn’t be terribly surprising that the first thing Jesus does as the Risen Christ is to show up, greet this friends in peace (after the horrible violence of his crucifixion), and breathe the Holy Spirit on them after they have barred the doors and are huddling in the dark traumatized and in fear.
This Sunday morning, we will immerse ourselves in the incredibly good Easter Resurrection news that Jesus shows up in our darkest most fearful places and breathes peace and life on us. Although in a few weeks, we will celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit into the world at Pentecost, we celebrate a quieter, and perhaps more transformative, coming of the Holy Spirit in our worship together this morning. Join us as we encounter the Risen Christ with a morning of music, prayer, spiritual reflection, and (Yes!) breathing. I look forward to seeing you there. -Rev. Jeanne