I walked the path in the Savannah Wildlife Refuge, breathing in the musky smell of rotting vegetation and swamp water. The sun was painfully bright, and had coaxed the alligators out of their holes to lie on the banks in deathly stillness. Not a muscle moved, not an eye blinked, not a sign of an intake of breath was given. I stood on the banks of the canal and watched a sixfooter, looking for a twitch in that gray-green armor and wondering anew at the ability of an alligator to stay as still as stone for extended periods of time. When I breath, my chest rises in rhythmic regularity. No mystery there. My lungs expand with every breath I take – in and out, in and out – and you know that I am alive. It is like that for almost everything that has breath. But, a gator can lay for hours suspended in his hide, and give nothing away.
I read an old Reader’s Digest article where they actually did a study to learn how much a soul weighs. They weighed people just as they were about to take their last breath and again after their breathing had stopped. They came to the conclusion that a soul weighs ¾ of an ounce. That was the average difference on the scales before and after the “breath” had left a person’s body. If you have ever stood at the bedside of a loved one who has expired, you know what that moment looks like; the stillness that settles in when his or her breath has departed. You know precisely when the soul you love is gone.
During the season of the Church year called Lent, we follow Jesus as he makes his slow, deliberate way to the cross, where he takes his last breath, and his soul departs his earthly body. It is a time when we who love him ponder our own dependence on God for our life’s breath. It is a time when we become still long enough to be conscious of our own breathing; to appreciate it for the gift it is, and to be grateful for it. Lent is when we intentionally take the time to breathe – to stop in the middle of the busy-ness of life to recognize the presence of God living in us, filling us with the Spirit; the breath of God, the Lord, the Giver of Life.
This Lenten season, give yourself the gift of time to breathe. Open yourself up to the Spirit’s movement! Join your living, breathing, brothers and sisters in Christ as we gather each week to allow God to send forth his breath and renew our souls! Don’t let anyone wonder whether you are alive or not!
Pastor Barb <><
O Lord… When you take away their breath, they die and return to their dust. When you send forth your breath, they are created; and you renew the face of the ground. Psalm 104: 29-30