God, Creation and Poetry ~ 6
Pentecost is a liturgical celebration of the birth of the Christian church. Pentecost is experienced artistically and symbolically with images of the Holy Spirit as wind, fire and breath. It is a celebration of new birth and transformation—a new way of being community to a people who had experienced great suffering, pain and loss. Images remembered from this Pentecost Sunday 2020 also depict suffering, pain and loss including people on ventilators, buildings on fire, and a man, George Floyd, who couldn’t breathe, who’s breath was taken away.
A pertinent Pentecost story in scripture is that of people speaking in many languages yet still able to understand each other—a comforting image on days when the suffering is so great that there are just no words. Fr. Richard Rohr speaks of great love and great suffering as the primary sources of transformation, a transformation that is not static, but rather dynamic and ever-changing.
So what is the one thing we can do as we ride the winds of change? Breathe long, slow, deep breaths. Receive the gift of breath. We breathe in times of action and in times of contemplation. Breath is mentioned 42 times in scripture and most often in the Old Testament book of Job. There just isn’t a greater story of suffering than Job’s story, and yet, that is the story where breath is mentioned the most in the Bible.
One of the greatest gifts of yoga is the attention paid to the breath, the practice of pranayama. Some say that all of the poses we do are to simply prepare the body to breathe. In that breath we experience union with the One Holy Breath. Pranayama is one of the eight limbs of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, the foundational text of yoga practices and philosophy that also includes the more familiar asana, or poses. Pranayama physically impacts the nervous system to either calm or energize the person practicing it. In times of great suffering, fear or anxiety the breathing technique of slow, relaxed inhalation and slow, relaxed exhalation balances the two branches of the nervous system. Prana, also known as “life force”, is the Holy Breath of the Spirit of Pentecost.
You will recognize the biblical narratives woven throughout this poem written Rev. Cindy Senarighi.
Breath Prayer ~ Inhale~ Om, shanti, Exhale~ Shanti, peace.
Om is the earth’s universal breath sound; shanti is Sanskrit for “peace”.
Mud, dirt and clay
Infused with life
One Holy breath
Breathe again new life in us
Numb and dying
Our bones are weary
Breathe new life in us Holy Breath
When we have nothing left
Confusion and chaos
Breathe understanding in us
Speak in tongues the language of Love
For all people
Light the fire of compassion
In angry hearts
Jesus said, My peace I give to you
My peace I leave with you
and breathed on his people
Breathe on us, breath of God
OM shanti, shanti, Om
The universal breath, the Christ breath of peace
First breath, dying breath
Circle of life
A renewed birth of
Life, Presence, Compassion and Peace.