I used to think that the pattern of life-death-resurrection was powerful because it only happened once.
I am learning that the reason it is powerful is because it never stops happening.
The life of summer, and the death of fall and winter, leading back to the rebirth of spring. The life of the day, leading into the death of night, back into the resurrection of dawn. The life of our hopes, leading to the death of our dreams, and somehow, after a dark time, we begin to hope again. The life as the Greek City States, and then their defeat in the Peloponnesian Wars, and then a sort-of resurrection of their beliefs in ideas in the Roman Empire. The life of the a person, inevitably leading to their death, and yet the person lives on. In an afterlife, I suspect, but regardless of all that, they live in the people they impacted, they live in because when they die the people who they once supported now take the roles that they had.
And perhaps more of all:
The life of inhaling. The Death of exhalation. And the resurrection because then it all begins again. There is such power in our breathing! Not only is our every breath an act of saying the unsayable name of God: also, every breathe is a reenactment of life, death, and resurrection; it points to the countless cycles that occur everywhere look, but most of all, it points at the cross of Jesus.
I have asthma. And I hate it and it sucks. But asthma is a teacher. If I had never desperately fought for a breath, I think I wouldn’t know to value them so much. If you have never had to fight to breathe in this way, I bet you can remember some time in your life when somebody got you just right, hit you perfectally in the solar plexus. Do you remember the abject terror of having the air forced out of you, the terrifying fear that your lungs will never work again?
I think this all puts me in touch with something. There is this moment, between the inhale and exhale. Between every inhale and exhale. It is a moment of death and terror. It is a moment of emptiness. It is a moment for me to hang dead on the cross. I experience it hundreds of times a day. And I think mostly I repress just how horrible it is.
But when we bring our attention to our breath, we are fighting this repression. When we bring our attention to our breathe, we are being born, and dying, and then being reborn in evey single breath. We are being crucified, killed, and reborn with Jesus, with every single breath.
Today, perhaps you would like to sit and meditate and breathe. Some people find it helpful to touch a finger with a thumb with each breath: that tactile stimulation, of breathing and touching the pointer finger, then breathing again and touching the middle finger, and breathing again and touching the ring finger, and breathing again and touching the pinkie, and then going to the other hand… Maybe you would like to give that a try today.
As you breathe, perhaps it is best if you think of nothing at all. But perhaps you will think of Jesus: living, dying, and being reborn, with each breath you take.