Breathe of Life

by Amy Young on April 15, 2016

 creature has recently descended into me and lays heavy on my lungs and is constricting my throat. It is not serious, but it reminded me, once again as I struggle to breath and swallow, of a piece I’d written several years ago. 
 
Breathe of life
The LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. Genesis  2:7
Do I hear an Amen?! Probably not. OK, let me back up.

What has made me a living being?  (Not who has made me living, what has brought life?Just as Aslan walked through the courtyard of the White Witch breathing on the creatures she had turned to stone, the breath of life has made me, has made you, a living human being. Without breath we are without life. Simple, poetic, necessary. And, oh so easily, over looked by me, and I’m guessing you.

Mere days before returning to China I got a cold that settled in my lungs, making breathing painful. No longer could days pass innocently by without thought of breathing. Breath became uncomforably conscious. With the recent history of SARS and H1N1, the Chinese do not look favorably on those who travel with illness, scowling and projecting the unspoken, though very loud question, “Why have you chosen to risk our lives by being near us?” I did not cough often, yet each cough on the plane brought looks as if I carried the breath of death instead of life.

Cold, dry, polluted Beijing air did not bring quick—or actually much—healing, leaving me to hope in the healing powers of warm, moist, cleaner Thailand air.

Breathe in, breathe out.

Breathe in, breathe out. Cough. Choke. Pain.

Breath of life is not a given. Just ask Tabitha, the disciple from Joppa who was always doing good and helping the poor until she became sick and died. When Peter commanded her to get up, a miracle occurred. The breath of life returned, and arise she did!

Breathe in, breathe out.

The first night in Thailand I woke myself twice, gasping and coughing for air. The next night, I dreamed so vividly of being on a sinking ship. The ship had only women in Victorian dresses and as we prepared to drown, we were told to take off our dresses and watch them sink first. Yes, yes, I know. This is a dream that is ripe for the over analyzing. But don’t. For the second night in a row I awoke to the paralyzing sensation of not being able to breathe.

I am alive because the LORD God breathed life in my body. I am alive because the Son of God has given life where I was dead in my sins. I am alive because the Spirit of God is bearing new fruit in my character.

Breathe in, breathe out. I barely notice you, breath of life, until something is wrong in body or soul. And though this acute awareness will (sadly) pass as something else captures my thoughts and attention, today as I breathe it is with this mantra whispered:

Breath of life. 

Breath of life.

Breath of life.

Thank you giver of life. Thank you for breathing life in its messy fullness into me.

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About Amy Young

Free resource to help you add tools to your tool box. When Amy Young first moved to China she knew three Chinese words: hello, thank you and watermelon. She is known to jump in without all the facts and blogs regularly at The Messy Middle. She also works extensively with Velvet Ashes as content creator and curator, book club host, and connection group coordinator. She writes books to help you. Amy is the author of Love, Amy: An Accidental Memoir Told in Newsletters from China and Looming Transitions: Starting and Finishing Well in Cross-Cultural Service. Looming Transitions also has two companion resources: 22 Activities for Families in Transitions and Looming Transitions Workbook. You can listen to it too.
  • Elizabeth Trotter

    I love this, Amy. I just returned from a week of “breathing” here in the countryside of Cambodia. In the weeks leading up to this team trip, I’ve occasionally sat back in my chair and asked my stressed-out self what exactly it was that I wanted. And each time, it was that I wanted to get out into nature and just breathe. Even thinking about getting out into nature caused me to take deeper, slower breaths and start relaxing. It’s something I kind of forget to do sometimes, but something I really must not forget.

    • It is amazing the restorative properties of a deep breath . . . why do I forget it?! 🙂

  • Wow, it’s so true we don’t appreciate breathing until it becomes difficult. A few weeks ago, my friend was teaching me how slowing down and breathing deeply helps to focus on God, to pray more mindfully, to be aware of myself and where I am in every aspect (physically, emotionally, spiritually). I need this in my everyday! Thanks, Amy, for encouraging remembrance and appreciation for simple (yet crucial) breath.

    • It seems like we need to remind each other more often than we do :). Breathing really is so simple AND so profound! 🙂

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