Moment #6 - Breath of God that Lifts our Spirits & Changes the World
God's breath or wind -- Ruah -- animates every speck of stardust in the cosmos, including the wildly unpredictable, fragile and beautiful human body. The Epiphany is a celebration of God becoming flesh, made possible by the Spirit. What epiphanies await you in your spiritual life?
Bible scholar Walter Bruggerman says:
“The Bible struggles to find adequate vocabulary to speak about and name this unutterable, irresistible, undomesticated force that surges into history to liberate heal, remake, and transform. We are left with this code term, ruah, to speak about what we know but cannot say.”
God is this wild, creative, irresistible force. The force of Love that brings life from death.
Ruah is present and active throughout sacred Scripture.
God's eternal spirit animates all of creation since the beginning of the world.
Ruah moved the waters and created dry land.
God breathed into the dusty vessels of human bodies bringing us to life
Divine wind parted the seas and liberated an oppressed people from Egypt
The Holy Spirit empowered the disciples and early church to speak the Good News without fear.
The Spirit is the connecting force throughout the Gospel stories and the lives and rituals of people of faith then, now and in the future. But I feel that our understanding of the Holy Spirit is so narrow and weak. Perhaps there is a deep fear of being 'too pagan' or too pantheistic. But I feel we now only hear about the first two people of the Trinity and the Holy Spirit is lost or ignored.
But God's powerful breath is eternal, life-giving, and creative. It will always be with us and can breath new life into our dry bones world (systems) and inspire our personal ecological conversation.
If we notice.
If we don't numb ourselves with human hubris that is disconnected from the rest of creation
If we do not disconnect from creation, the place of wildness, un-domenstication, beauty and power that points (however inadequately) us to God's Ruah: Breath; Spirit; Wind
I know that need to hear these words, especially when despair is all around as COVID is stealing the breath from so many and the relationships that prevent us from feeling like dry out bones - shadows of our former selves. We all need reminding that the breath of God fills us -- the wind of spirit.
Here is our simple truth: We, along side all that was created by God is filled with the unutterable, irresistible, undomesticated Ruah that liberates heals, remakes, and transforms ... our hearts, minds and work of our hands. This is the core of creation care that includes a call to action. Creation care is how we live a Christian spirituality that elicits compassion and love for our human brethren..
We are, inescapably, filled with the holy, creative spirit, from our first breath to our last --
and so are they ...
Creation is animated by God's overexuberant, wild Breath and this is why creation is "very good". And, so are we.
So live this truth ... you are filled with Divine, Creative, Life-giving Breath
Don't waste a moment -- live like it!
Painting by Melanie Weidner: Listen For Joy: Soul stories in art.
Activity: Refreshing our Spirits
Go to the space you have carved out in the natural world to befriend. Sit awhile just breathing and 'holy' noticing - big and small; today and yesteryear; needs and gifts; beauty and fragility
Bring your journal and when the moment strikes you, write down things you are seeing, feeling, thinking ...
Place a hand on your belly and one on your heart. Then take a deep breath in... fill your lungs ... feel it rush into every cell of your body, nourishing them, invigorating them. Hold it a short moment. Bring all your anxieties and stress into this held breath and then left them go -- exhale slowly and deliberately. Feel all that your cells and mind chose to get rid of, push it all out and then pause a moment. Then allow your lungs to refill with fresh breath - the breath of God.
"Every breath you take began with the breath of God. With every breath you take you are filled with the spirit of God, filled with ruah. The Spirit of God dwells in you that you may live and live abundantly in right relationship." Pastor Liz, April 2017
Find a gentle cadence with your breath.
Take a moment to meditate on this three gems of wisdom from our Christian heritage and notice how new life and trust in God's irresistibly wild and powerful breath. If the Spirit moves you, write your thoughts in your journal:
1) Ezekiel 37:1-10
The hand of the Lord came upon me, and he brought me out by the spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me all around them; there were very many lying in the valley, and they were very dry. He said to me, “Mortal, can these bones live?” I answered, “O Lord God, you know.” Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them: O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord God to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. I will lay sinews on you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put
breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am the Lord.” So I prophesied as I had been commanded; and as I prophesied, suddenly there was a noise, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. I looked, and there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them; but there was no breath in them. Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, mortal, and say to the breath: Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that
they may live.” I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood on their feet, a vast multitude.
Do you feel like a pile of dry bones? Lean into why...
Where is your spiritual dryness - when do you feel so far from God?
Where do you feel closeness to God?
What feeds your creative power?
Where is the wildness and power moving in your life?
2) Rom 8:6-9
To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For this reason the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law—indeed it cannot, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.
When do you find it hardest to believe that you are filled with the breath of God? Why?
Human caused climate change aggravates chronic respiratory diseases ... what does this do to our understanding that God is living breath?
Breathing clean, life-giving air is a privilege not all share. Did you know that African American women were 20 percent more likely to have asthma than non-Hispanic white women? Did you know that about 13.4 percent of African-American children have asthma, compared to about 7.4 percent of white children with asthma? Did you know that African Americans were almost three times more likely to die from asthma related causes than the white population (2014) - due to pollution, poverty, and other social determinants of health? How does this reality connect with Ruah as healer and liberator? How can creation care mean new life in the Spirit for African Americans?
3) The Spirit of God has filled the universe with possibilities and therefore, from the very heart of things, something new can always emerge. (Laudato Si’ 80)
What newness is trying to emerge from you?
Do you really see the Spirit filling the universe? If so, then why are we destroying our common home?
How is the Spirit nudging you to new behaviors? What are they?
Pope Francis is clear that we must dig deeply into the rich heritage of Christian spiritualty, the fruit of twenty centuries of personal and communal experiences. It is this excavation that will help renew the face of the Earth and the human community. (LS 216) An ecological spirituality is grounded in the core convictions of our faith -- the teachings of the Gospel impacts how we think about the world, love within it, and live in right relationship.
If you come to our January 9th retreat I will be walking through these core elements of Catholic faith and connecting them to the call to care for creation.
Christian anthropology (check out my first book for a faithful and distinctly ecological theological anthropology),
Image of God,
Doctrine of creation,
Pneumatology (Holy Spirit),
Eschatology (Vision of End Times),
Catholic Social teaching (e.g., common good, human dignity, right to life, option for the poor, rights and responsibilities, solidarity)
It is only a couple of days away-- register for our January 9th retreat together
LINK TO REGISTER -- CLICK HERE