Today is Pentecost in most Christian denominations. Traditionally, it is the day that the Holy Spirit was gifted to the early church. This day is considered the birthday of the Christian denomination. Thinking about this day also makes me think of the Holy Spirit. It then leads me, almost naturally to think of that title of the Holy Spirit, the Breath of God.
Of course, then I start thinking about breath in general. Which in turn reminds me of something I once learned in my college days, but was again reminded of today. Did you know, the Greek word, πνεύμα (pneuma), means breath, wind and spirit? It’s the word used in the the New Testament when talking about the Holy Spirit coming down at Pentecost. It’s also the root word for English words pneumatic and pneumonia.
Lately, it seems as though I have been very conscious of breath in general, particularly the breath of nature. I’ve been focusing, more often than not, on wind, since it seems to be ever-present in my life.
For a number of days in the month of May, the wind seemed to be prevalent in my little swath of the Midwest. There were some days when I thought I was just about to fly away the wind was so strong. Then there were days like yesterday morning, where the wind was calm and cool as it blew strands of my hair across my face as I journaled in the sunshine. As I often write in my stories (have you checked those out yet, hint, hint!), Mother Nature is changeable.
The wind can be destructive, especially when it’s swirling in a tornado or hurricane or a straight-line derecho. Then there are other days where the wind is gentle and cool. It caresses the skin gently like a lover or a parent soothing a child.
In the winter, wind can be biting cold, a bitter chill that permeates even the thickest of protections. In dry weather there’s the fear that high winds will fan the flames of wildfires. Winds can flatten houses and cause tall trees to snap in two. They can bring terrible sandstorms and carry ash and soot for hundreds or thousands of miles.
But then, breezes can also cool and bring smooth sailing to boats and planes alike. They scatter seeds of plants and help to pollinate to bring new life. They guide rain clouds across the skies.
Then there is breath, that very human sense. We tell ourselves to “just breathe” when faced with crises. We focus on our breathing when we meditate or pray. There is the breathing women are taught in childbearing classes. There is the unconscious breathing every living thing on this planet does.
Breath gives life.
While one can live without food for weeks and days without water, the average human can only live without air for minutes. We cannot speak unless we first breathe. We cannot find the magic or write our stories if we first do not draw in that air, that pneuma, that is life-sustaining.
So as I sit here, focusing on my breath as I type this out on my Chromebook, I think back to the life-sustaining power that breath has. And even though every other deep breath or so is accentuated by an allergy-related cough, there is power in that breath, just as their is power in the wind. Just as there is power in the day for those who believe in what Pentecost is about. There is magic here. There is a story here. There is…..life!
Write your own story.
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