Episode 30: Breathe

Episode 30: Breathe

Do not live in fear, little flock, it has pleased your Creator to give you the kindom.

So reads the gospel of Luke, Chapter 12, verse 32.

I was asked last week what my favorite Bible verse was, and this is what I said.

Do not live in fear, little flock, it has pleased your Creator to give you the kindom.

That’s not always as easy as it sounds: do not live in fear. I am sure that is why Jesus put so much emphasis on it. Fear is a dangerous and destructive thing. It changes our body chemistry. It overrides the higher thinking that our brains have evolved to engage in. It reduces our choices in human interaction to the more basic, primal instincts of fighting or fleeing – neither of which is conducive to building human community.

And every politician and advertiser knows how powerful those basic instincts are. Because of that, we live in a world that bombards us every day with voices that not only tell us what to be afraid of, they are conditioning us to live in fear: exactly what Jesus was instructing us not to do: do not live in fear, little flock.

There is a song by a group called Lost Dogs. It is called Breathe Deep the Breath of God.

Each verse is a litany of those people invested in the perpetration of fear, and the various tools they use to ensure that not a day goes by that we don’t wake up without some awareness of imminent danger. The first verse reads:

Politicians, morticians, Philistines, homophobes
Skinheads, Dead heads, tax evaders, street kids
Alcoholics, workaholics, wise guys, dim wits
Blue collars, white collars, war mongers, peace nicks

Then the chorus interrupts the litany and simply repeats this line:

Breathe deep
Breathe deep the Breath of God
Breathe deep
Breathe deep the Breath of God

Our creation narrative reminds us that God is the source of our breathing. The Hebrew word for Spirit and for breath are the same word. Breathe. Breathe deep. Breathe deep the breath of God.

When fear threatens: breathe. Breathe deep. Breathe deep the breath of God.
When politicians shilling for votes remind you how awful the world is and why you need them to be your savior: Breathe. Breathe deep. Breathe deep the breath of God.

When advertisers remind you how your flaky scalp or bad breath or shabby clothing or outdated car or less than perfectly smooth skin will cost you your job, your marriage, your confidence, your health, your happiness and how your need their product to eradicate those fears: Breathe. Breathe deep. Breathe deep the breath of God.

When I went on sabbatical three years ago, I returned and met with my coach/spiritual director. She asked me how it was. I told her that I breathed differently while on sabbatical, and from that point forward every time we met she asked me: How is John-who-breathes-differently.

Do not live in fear, little flock. Breathe deep the breath of God. Find your spiritual awakening in the choice to let go of the fears that corrode, divide, degrade, and diminish our capacity for joy. And may this day serve to remind you that God, who in pleasure has given you the kindom, is always as close as your next breath. Fellow traveler through this beautiful kindom of God’s, may your breathing bring you fully into all that God in pleasure has given you on your journey’s Into the Mystic.

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