Let Us Pray

Jesus, teach us how to pray. ~ Luke 11:1

When our son Ro was born, he was a deep purple. I held my breath for I could see the concern on the midwife’s face as she held our son, and then Ro breathed and let out a loud cry. I exhaled in relief. The moment was less than three seconds but seemed like an eternity. Jennifer held Ro on her bosom, and they breathed together as one. Breath never seemed so precious.

Years later, Jennifer and I held her mom’s hands as she moved from this world to the next. As Grandma Connie’s breath became shallower, we counted the precious seconds between each breath. The world seemed to stand still as we watched her mom’s chest rise and fall slower and slower. Angels were all around us. Then we fell into the still point, and Grandma’s breath became our breath.

Breath, the air we breathe, is the divine thread that runs throughout our lives, connecting birth to death and beyond. We breathe in the entirety of life—our joys and our sorrows, our wholeness and brokenness, our hopes and our disappointments, our elation and our grief. We hold our breath under water, and we blow out birthday candles. Jesus said to his disciples, “Peace be with you, and he breathed on them” (see John 20: 21,22). We close our eyes and breathe in the Spirit of God’s peace and love. Always there is the breath of God.

An anonymous person said, “Each breath we take is a gift… each moment of life is a grace.” Is our breath a prayer? Is God the air we breathe? What do we inhale and exhale… blessed assurance or fear and anxiety? Usually both?

Howard Thurman wrote, “God breathed through all that is. The sparrow overcome by sudden death in its evening flight; the lily blossoming on the rocky hillside; the grass of the field and the garden path; the clouds light and burdenless or weighted down with unshed water; the madman in chains; the little baby in his mother’s arms; the strutting arrogance of the Roman Legion; God breathed through all that is.”

Do we forget to breathe when our lives are spinning out of control? Do we forget to breathe when the only voice we seem to hear within is malevolent? Worrisome?

We must learn to breathe through all that life presents to us or we will go mad. Our breath can become a prayer for healing, reconciliation, and transformation of the world one breath at a time. “For prayer is nothing but complete surrender, complete oneness with Christ,” said Mother Teresa.

Father Richard Rohr writes, “I use prayer as the umbrella word for any interior journeys or practices that allow us to experience faith, hope, and love within ourselves. Prayer is not a technique for getting things or a requirement for entry into heaven. It is much more like practicing heaven now.”

Do we spend time in prayer? Do we intentionally surrender to the light and inhale God’s love, joy, and peace? Do we breathe through it all with God?

I remember the joy and relief in Ro’s first breath. I remember the sad peace in Grandma Connie’s last breath. I remember the cries for justice, “I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe!” God breathes through it all with us.

Dr. Christian, Jennifer’s breast surgeon, gave us a thorough report last Wednesday on the results Jennifer’s double mastectomy. “Jennifer, we expect you to live just as long as before this diagnosis.” The doctor rattled off statistics. We listened in a semi-state of numbness. “Do you have any questions?” Dr. Christian asked.

“Yes, do you have any suggestions to help us work through the loss, the trauma?”  we asked.

Dr. Christian paused. “I’m sorry,” she said. “I do this for a living, and I see so many women every week… The emotions are complex. We expect you to fully heal and live a long life and you also had a major surgery with great loss, trauma, and pain. You are holding very divergent emotions—positive and negative. We have good counselors who can support you in your grief and loss.”

Jennifer, with tears forming in her eyes, reached out with both of her arms wide to Dr. Christian. The labels, doctor and patient, disappeared as two women, two mothers, embraced each other in the spirit of compassion as they breathed hope into each other. They were one in Spirit and one in prayer.

May God’s love and peace be the air we breathe, for this we pray.

Blessings and peace,


Posted in Meditations.