When we are thirsty, the first sip of cool water is magically good. And the first bite of food when we are really hungry? Oh yes! Is anything better? Surely our hunger and thirst tell us exactly what we need, and when we respond to that need, our whole being rejoices. There is another need that too often goes overlooked. Even though we can only survive a few minutes without breathing, our hunger for gulps of fresh air goes unanswered. As we stumble through these days of pandemic shelter and its limited living, there is no experienced need for more and better air in our lungs. We just feel an undefined deflation – a fading enthusiasm for life abundant.
No matter what part of the country you call home, the changing season is bringing a brisk and bracing change. The air is cooler and fresher than it has been all summer. That air is moving. There are fronts that usher in dramatic temperature shifts, often with surprising gusts of wind that sway the trees and rustle their leaves. The sultry stillness – not so different from our stuck-indoors doldrums – is being escorted out with the bluster of something crisp and new.
Today I propose an exercise in refreshment.
Get up and get out. Get out into the places where this fresh air blows, and let it touch you. Breathe it in. Taste its sweetness. Feel the relief it carries. Locate the hunger within you that these breaths are satisfying.
Now imagine that every part of your experience as a human being has been folded into the same small, stale package that you have just refreshed. You have not taken a deep, clean breath of life for months. Your thoughts, emotions, hopes, plans and relationships have been quietly gasping as you have waited for some relief to appear, only to wait and wait again. Let these cool breezes blow through you. Just as they caress your skin, let them enter your mind to stir and rustle your thoughts. Let them scatter the dusty memories of dull days. Let them refresh your desire for wholeness.
A word chosen to illustrate God’s spirit is “pneuma,” or wind. God chose to breathe life – to blow life though the world and into each human. That spirit of life, like the wind, is invisible, without shape or substance, and capable of creating, renewing, and sustaining us. The “pneuma,” the wind, the breath that can sustain us is blowing now. So yes, get up and get out, and let that wind blow in your face, through your hair, and into your very soul. Soon, when we are all together again, our spirits will soar. Until then, just breathe. Breathe and be refreshed.