Velvet Ashes is exploring the idea of breathing and rhythms this week and I wanted to share a post from the archives. As my dad died, one of the ways we monitored his journey towards death was to count the number of breaths he had per minute. His last hour there was indeed, a change in his breathing and temperature. And then he breathed his last and his lips began to lose color. Breath of life is poetic and metaphorical. It is also the difference between life and death.
I’m posting early because, well, Friday.
Friday is Pi Day! 
breath of life2
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.

Linking up with Velvet Ashes prompt: breath

Photo credit aussiegall via flickr



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  1. Karin B March 11, 2014 at 7:10 pm - Reply

    What a beautiful post, Amy. Makes me think of the song “Breathe” by Anna Nalick, too. I’m thankful for my breath today. Thanks for the reminder to be grateful.

    (And Friday is Pi Day!! I want to find some gluten-free, dairy-free PIE that day! I maybe gotta make it, lol.)


    • Avatar photo
      Amy March 16, 2014 at 4:25 pm - Reply

      How fortuitous we shared a round pancake on Pi day! :) xoxo Amy

  2. Danielle Wheeler March 13, 2014 at 11:28 pm - Reply

    The sky is bright and blue and crisp today, and I find myself gulping it in! The freedom to open windows!! To not dread the dirty air… Suddenly, breath is a gift.

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      Amy March 16, 2014 at 4:23 pm - Reply

      Those blue skies are a rich gift worth looking at over and over again ;)!!!

  3. Amanda March 14, 2014 at 2:29 am - Reply

    Yes! Breath is life. It’s quiet, but oh so important.

  4. Jana March 15, 2014 at 12:07 pm - Reply

    Breathe of life is “the difference between life and death.” So true in so many ways. Beautiful post.

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