The Breath of Life

On Saturday, September 11th, I had the opportunity to attend two memorial services.  The first service was a memorial service for the tragic events of 9/11 honoring the first responders from Montgomery county.  The second service was a service for a congregant.

This second service wasn’t planned.  The family knew their loved one’s health had been failing.  I had the honor of sitting vigil with the family as they surrounded his bed to express their love of him.  His breathing was labored and shallow.

Ultimately, it was his breathing that most affected his critical state.  His breath of life was labored and shallow.

After several hours of gazing into his beautiful wife’s eyes and holding the hands of his kids and grandkids, he closed his eyes and stopped breathing.  The breath of life had stopped flowing through his lungs, no longer caused his chest to rise and fall.  It was no longer labored and shallow – it had stopped.  His breath had been gathered up to the God who first breathed life into his lungs.

Genesis 2: 4 – 7 tells of God’s creation of humanity.  God formed the earth being and after breathing into its nostrils – it became a living being.  This account of God’s creation of humanity is true of the creation of all humans.  God breathed life into the lungs of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus, sinners and saints, terrorists and first responders, soldiers and our foes.  The breath of life God breathed into my lungs and your lungs God also breathed into every other living being.

I am reminded of the hymn, “Breathe on me, Breath of God.”

Breathe on me, Breath of God, fill me with life anew, that I may love what thouse dost love, and do what thou wouldst do.
Breathe on me, Breath of God, until my heart is pure, until with thee I will one will to do and to endure.
Breathe on me, Breath of God, till I am wholly thine, until this earthly part of me glows with thy fire divine.
Breathe on me, Breath of God, so shall I never die, but live with thee the perfect life of thine eternity.

I went to the memorial service for the man.  I wasn’t able to make it to the 9/11 memorial service.  Both services remembered loved ones whose breath was gathered back to God under very different circumstances.  Nonetheless, those lives were gathered up to God.

May your inhaling of the breath of life be easy and full,
Rev. Tracy

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