Friday, June 22, 2012



Most of us aren't conscious of breathing until some physical disorder or outside condition obstructs or inhibits its normal function. In later years as a result of lung cancer surgery to remove a part of my lung, I have chronic diminished lung capacity. From time to time I go through a pulmonary function test. 

It's pretty high tech procedure these days. In a hospital lab I sit in a clear plastic box that looks like a phone booth. I'm tested through Spirometry to measure the force and amount of air leaving my lungs, through a Diffusion test to show how well my lungs move air into my blood, and several lung volume tests with different mixtures of air. The latter measures how much air I inhale and exhale or stays in my lungs. Shortness of breath has become my new normal. I can't do a fast mile walk as previously, and flights of stairs have become increasingly difficult.

Nighttime breathing is an additional challenge since I must use a CPAP machine connected by a hose to a nose-piece to alleviate Sleep Apnea. 

As Job declared, “My days are but a breath”--a breath is all that separates this world and the next for everyone. So I'm thankful for every sustaining breath I take and for whatever measure of breathing normalcy God sees fit to apportion to me. I'm conscious of the Source from which my breath came and continues to come—God—who breathed into the nostrils of the first man the breath of life, and Jesus Christ who breathed on His followers to receive the Holy Spirit in power to be His witnesses. “[God] gives to all life and breath and all things” (Acts 17:25).

In gratitude and in stewardship for the generosity of God lovingly lavishing upon me eight decades of breath from my first infant breath , I want to use that breath for Him in the way He expects me to—by praising God and sharing Him with others. “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord!” (Psalm 150:6) 

Part of the evening meditation for the Mass Liturgy in the devotional publication “Magnificat” was the hymn I was also familiar with as an evangelical. I took the first phrase as my “Bread Before Bed” (See my blog post for June 7, 2012) as I drifted off to sleep repeating in rhythm with my breathing: “Breathe on me, breath of God, fill me with life anew.”

Each stanza speaks meaningfully to me: “That I may love what thou 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, Till all 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 expressed it my way in one of my poems:


I praise You, Lord,
with every breath
and every thought
with singers and sages
throughout all ages
with all saints on earth
and heaven's host
praise the Father, the Son,
and the Holy Ghost.

I join my breath today
and with my voice proclaim
Your matchless holy name
with earth and heaven acclaim
Your benevolent sovereignty.
You rule the universe
yet deign to stoop
to reign in me
a finite reflection
of Your creativity.

I praise You, O Lord!
I celebrate You!
Applaud You! Magnify You!
I lift You high
yet how can I
when You are already
The Highest?

But I glorify
what You are and do
Majestic hitherto
and still today
declared by my breath
and tongue of mortal clay.

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