Six years ago today my mother passed away. She died in my home, in my bedroom that we made into her bedroom. I am frequently reminded of her life and death there just for the fact of it being there. Everyone loses their mother and I'm not different than anyone else. But the baggage of childhood, the love of mother, the connected spirit and flesh that we share with our mothers makes that relationship, and loss of it, especially poignant. For my own sanity and self preservation, I push those memories aside because they are too sad and painful for me to recollect. I cope in ways that I am still learning and I focus on the good and I try to stay in the present. Now and then it is a little harder, like on anniversary days like today. For the final three days of her life my mother was unconscious. I sat by her bedside, held her hand, prayed, sang songs, and talked to her. But mostly, I listened to her breathe.
I learned long ago, when studying Genesis, that when God created man he breathed life into him. Man's first breath was God's breath. In Exodus God tells Moses who he is by simply saying, "I am". God was was telling Moses his name and his name is existence itself.
These days, I am learning how important it is to breathe. I have learned that when we are in fear or under stress, or extreme anxiety, we tend to hold our breath or we breathe fast and shallow. Part of meditation is to find "the breath" and ground ourselves simply by breathing. If our mind is going haywire, our heart is racing, and panic fills our head, these can all be brought under control by our conscious breathing, among other things.
A friend shared this writing today and it was timely for me on this day. It brought me great comfort and something to ponder.
written by – Sandra Thurman Caporale
There was a moment when Moses had the nerve to ask God what his name is. God was gracious enough to answer, and the name he gave is recorded in the original Hebrew as YHWH.
Over time we’ve arbitrarily added an “a” and an “e” in there to get YaHWeH, presumably because we have a preference for vowels.
But scholars and Rabis have noted that the letters YHWH represent breathing sounds, or aspirated consonants. When pronounced without intervening vowels, it actually sounds like breathing.
YH (inhale): WH (exhale).
So a baby’s first cry, his first breath, speaks the name of God.
A deep sigh calls His name – or a groan or gasp that is too heavy for mere words.
Even an atheist would speak His name, unaware that their very breathe is giving constant acknowledgment to God.
Likewise, a person leaves this earth with their last breath, when God’s name is no longer filing their lungs.
So when I can’t utter anything else, is my cry calling out His name?
Being alive means I speak His name constantly.
So, is it heard the loudest when I’m the quietest?
In sadness, we breathe heavy sighs.
In joy, our lungs feel almost like they will burst.
In fear we hold our breath and have to be told to breathe slowly to help us calm down.
When we’re about to do something hard, we take a deep breath to find our courage.
When I think about it, breathing is giving him praise. Even in the hardest moments!
This is so beautiful and fills me with emotion every time I grasp the thought. God chose to give himself a name that we can’t help but speak every moment we’re alive.
All of us, always, everywhere.
Waking, sleeping, breathing, with the name of God on our lips.