The Air I Breathe

Let me share with you a giggle that occurred this week. As we attended our church service on Sunday morning, complete with face masks and all the Covid protocols, our worship leader lead us through This is the Air I Breathe. If you are not familiar with the worship song, it starts like this: This is the air I breathe… and goes on to refer to our need for the Holy Spirit to be the living part of our daily lives. Which is all good. The giggle comes as I was sitting with the words mulling in my brain, breathing, my breath filtered up through my mask and totally clouded my glasses! To the point where I could no longer see the screen where the words were being projected. It struck me in a practical way how real air is. This really was the air I was breathing… right there in my face! We take breathing for granted. It’s only when our oxygen is restricted or otherwise hindered that we become acutely aware of how much it is needed.

I am pretty sure many of you are feeling the restrictions of face masks and shields, and understand what I am getting at here. Perhaps you feel it is an inconvenience. You feel “restricted” and desperate for real air. Living and fresh and clear. On one hand we say we are are suffering at personal levels. But if we see the other side of the coin, the earth is benefitting as a whole. I was listening to a science podcast that was outlining one of the benefits to this worldwide pandemic was that air pollution seems to be on the decrease. Less travel and fewer cars makes for clearer roads. Apparently, neighbouring villages can now see the distant himalayan mountains for the first time in 30 years!

The air around us contains only about 21% oxygen. It’s only a small portion of what we personally need. Nitrogen and other gases make up the rest … not to mention the other particles like dust, mold, water and who knows what. Isn’t it amazing that our bodies can filter through all that stuff to get us what we need… without us even trying.

John 3:8(NASB) says:

“The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

Our new lives in Christ cannot be seen or felt. Much like that of the work in our lives by the Holy Spirit. There is evidence of change… movement, a noticeable difference to the norm. We can’t pinpoint it, nor contain it… but it certainly is there! Like the air we breathe, we take it for granted, and are only reminded of His work when the evidence abounds. Or your mask causes you to get all fogged up. Both trials and joy-filled moments can present fresh air for our spiritual lives. Those moments force us to take notice of the simple things we often don’t “see”. So, my friends, if you are feeling desperate for the Spirit’s work to be evident, you might just have to take a good look around. It’s there. In the fogged up glass amongst the pollution and the stuff of this world. And we are desperate for it, every day.

Death and the Wind

Well. It’s been quite the week. Our “new normal” of self isolation continues, much like all of you. It seems we’ve had quite a lot to ponder over these weeks — but not much to share. I’m finding it hard to be inspired when nothing new is happening. Perhaps that’s a cop-out because there should always be something new, right? Never stop learning and all that. Should take my own advice sometimes! So here goes: As I write these words, the wind is howling outside. Empty and angry, yet cleansing, in a way. It seems to be clearing the world of debris. My poor, old house creaks and groans as it gets shoved around along with the trees outside. My windows are rattling. It’s grey and overcast, and today has been a quiet, slow one after our makeshift festivities and family chats over the internet, remnants of an unusual Easter weekend.

It’s supposed to be a season of rebirth and resurrection. Honestly, I had planned to write about growth this week…. but it seems like I am stuck back on Good Friday and am in the limbo between it and resurrection Sunday. Death seems to be on my mind. Which sounds horrid and morbid and is a terrible title for a blog post. It evokes images of heavy metal thrasher bands and dark images from gothic artists. So my apologies if you came looking for some bright and cheery words of encouragement today. Perhaps we will get there by the end of my 700 or so words.

There seems to be plenty of depressing reports in the news these days during this world wide pandemic. Current data shows over 119 000 deaths as a result of the Coronavirus across our planet. People are dying at an alarming rate. Then, of course, there are unrelated deaths: people are still starving, people are still getting older, people are still without proper healthcare, clean water and hygiene. Hate is still part of our lives. Depression and mental health is still running a muck — maybe even more so — as we are cooped up and forced to face our own thoughts and fears. Our personal demons are joining forces with some very real ones. And in many places, fear and chaos are becoming their leaders.

I’m hearing stories of good, hard working people getting knocked down by the overwhelming death toll. Refrigerated box cars becoming makeshift morgues. Mass graves being dug for the homeless and unnamed. Bodies are literally being dumped on the streets in some parts of the world. Day after day it’s all we see and hear about. It’s easy to see how those on the frontlines are quickly becoming bogged down by the pain and sorrow of it all. And then, how do you mourn? How can you comfort one another from a proper “social distance”? What happens when you cannot say “goodbye”? Closure is difficult from your phone screen. We have etiquette and social graces for death. We say the right things and send flowers and cards. But for so many? What is the response? I don’t know either.

I’m listening to the wind again. Trying, like Nicodemus in John 3, to figure out how God will use all this for His good. He will — because He loves us. It says so in that very same chapter: John 3:16. One of the first verses you learn. Even the football players and sports fans know it. It tells us the story of that fateful day so many centuries ago. The wind was there on Good Friday, too. It shook the houses and the windows rattled as the sky grew dark. The wind eventually will calm down again. Life will carry on and we will once again see that Hope of Easter Sunday. We have the Hope. It’s just a little bit hidden right now. Death was conquered permanently on that weekend. Have you been like Nicodemus, my friend? Trying to figure out what on Earth is going on when people speak of new birth, resurrection and that hope in this dark world? Why do we celebrate Easter weekend? Because of Faith in what is unseen — like the wind. We cannot predict it, like the curves on the covid 19 stats wall… or even death itself. It’s beyond our control. Faith is that big step into the unknown. Where the wind will then carry you.