For a moment, just breathe.
Morning run under bluest skies, and the warmth of the sun splits apart the crisp, cool evidence of a night safely passed. The trees, red and swollen, change the tone of the landscape, pregnant now with possibility. Spring comes suddenly, like a first breath, a startled gasp exhaled as relief; a seal broken on an empty tomb, air rushing to fill the void. The New Testament word for Spirit–pneuma–literally means moving air, or a breath, and God, He fills all our empty caverns with Himself, rushing right in. New life always begins with the first real breath.
I inhale slowly, tasting the breeze for hints of blooming, memorizing the gift, considering something a friend of mine once said about breathing: We take it for granted until we can’t. She would know. She has a chronic illness that robbed her of her lungs, and she once told me that before her transplant, she felt starved for air. You don’t know how precious it is to breathe until you can’t. We gloss right over the simple profoundity of being emptied and re-filled, the instinctive way we let go of what we have and see it rotundly returned, the way the seasons pass and things die away only to bud and rebloom. And sometimes, we’re just to busy to take notice.
So for a moment, maybe, just breathe.
Every empty space only waits for re-filling, and our arms have been sculpted for carefully gathering waiting treasures tucked away in grass blades, the bright orbs trimming the edges of our living. Where ever we go, God has been before, planting grace. He has promised never to leave us empty. He waits, watching, drawing a finger out to nudge us toward the bright slip of color we’ve not yet discovered. Look, just there, just carefully. Now. Breathe.
I run through cherry blossoms scattered on the sidewalk, and I think of the number I will write in my journal back at home, the round O filled with my counting, another empty orb God has well-filled with grace. Cherry blossoms, silk-delicate, tossed across the path.
He is forever filling up something empty. God fills my arms with the warmth of my children, my mouth with indulgent food, my hands with deft ability, my home with music, joy, love, laughter. And He fills me with Himself. It’s what He does. He rushes in, a bold breath, startling me newly alive, offering me abundance if I will take up the gifts He offers, ready, just there at my fingertips. If I can surrender long enough to be satisfied.
It’s a funny thing about breathing, that it requires surrender. After that first breath, every last one only comes after we let go of the stale stuff we’re holding onto. Renewal is written right into living.
I’m not fast as a runner, but I try for negative splits. I push myself up a hill, and the faster I run, the harder I breathe. I smile, remembering the way, as a young runner, this quick exchange used to cause me such gulping anxiety. I can’t, I can’t suffocated both my faith and my view of the truth that I was breathing—empty then filled, empty then filled, and it was enough. Sometimes, this desperate fear had been enough to make me stop still in the path, defeated. But that’s what fear does, especially the fear that we will not find the sustainance we need. Hunger, need–it’s all just a cavernous place ready for God, a place He’s promised to fill. Endurance has stretched my understanding of possibility, and I have learned that things are hardly ever as they seem. These days, I run certain my mind will betray me before my lungs give out and still more certain that God will do as He has promised. When I feel emptied, He has already begun to fill me again.
So rounding a turn, I lift my legs and whisper an echo miles-long: just breathe.