Hi Fabulous! I hope you’re having a wonderful day and are blessed by this offering.
America has a breathing problem. All inhale, all the time. Our competitive consumer culture urges us to ONLY inhale, in that we’re all about acquiring, climbing, and winning. You know the saying, “happy wife, happy life”? At the risk of sounding cheesy, I say “happy breath, happy health”, in that when we go withand joyously lean into The Flow of Life, and both its rhythms of receiving andgiving and its cycles of living anddying, we cultivate crops of goodness.
Did you ever play the hold your breath game as a kid? You know, when a group of you takes simultaneous deep inhales and you all wait to see who can hold her/his breath the longest? Or, if you really wanted to “live dangerously”, did the same thing in the pool and dove down or dunked your head to see who could survive the longest? I know I did! How does holding your breath feel though? Not great, right? Our bodies start to freak out, our minds get frantic, our skin will eventually turn colors, and when we resume regular breathing, at first it’s more like panting.
In the same way we’re NOT meant to hold our breath, and need equal inhales and exhales, we’re NOT created to mainly receive, acquire, take, achieve, and so on (which it what it seems America’s culture preaches). The reciprocal nature of breathing, wherein we both take in plants’ gift of oxygen and send out our blessing of carbon dioxide, mirrors the nature and flow of reality, which is Love, a way of mindful living highlighted by a perpetual dance of giving AND receiving kindness, care, and compassion.
I’ve gone through two divorces, and it occurs to me that as the first one began to unfold, in many ways I isolated myself … and I suffered greatly for it. So much so, that for a time I hoped to die! I think when we separate ourselves from others OR serve, care for, and pour ourselves into others without allowing/receiving a similar infilling of tangible acts of loving-kindness from others, it’s like only exhaling and never breathing in. In the same way living requires both inhales and exhales, a thriving existence needs both giving and receiving.
You know how when you pause your doings to center and take a purposeful deep breath you feel more alive? In the same way, when we accept, love, and mindfully work withthe natural, circular rhythms of life, we become LIT UP from the inside out! Life and death, cold and hot, joy and sorrow, receiving and giving, beginning and ending, creation and destruction, gain and loss, triumph and tragedy, and so on, are natural and normal cadences in existence. And a lesson I’m increasingly finding to be Truth is, the more we embrace ALL of life and its rhythms, especiallythe ones we don’t prefer, the more fantastic life becomes in an easy manner, because we’re going with The Flow! Really and truly it’s only when I reject or avoid sorrow, giving, ending, loss, tragedy, and death that I suffer.
At the risk of beating a dead horse (why is that a saying anyway?) when we follow the path of consumerism, wherein the goal is to acquire, accumulate, and take, we become like parasites who are sucking life from others all the time. We turn into suckers, which is a sucky life to lead, don’t you think?
A blissful life, though, is one wherein we realize we’re given the gift of each “inhale” purely to spread the Love by giving back with our own unique “exhale”. I think Jesus, who to me is the epitome of Life, Light, and Love in their beautiful fullness, gives us the most incredible example to follow on this topic. In Philippians 2.5-8 St. Paul puts an exclamation mark on what I’m getting at here by essentially saying kenosisis point.
Kenosisis an ancient Greek word meaning “self-emptying”. To paraphrase, amplify, and make applicable to us what Paul says in the text: Let the same mentality and way of being that was in Jesus animate you. Who, being by nature God, didn’t think Divine goodness was something to breathe in and keep, but humbly breathed it out (kenosis) to bless all people.
Friends, may the same life-giving and love-spreading Spirit that filled and moved through the Christ enliven and flow from us too!
Grace and peace,