In today’s Gospel reading Jesus breathed on them and said, “receive Holy Spirit.”
Summer has taken over my backyard. All the leaves, everywhere, are rustling in a slight breeze, and I cannot help but think, “the universal breath of Christ.”
The winds of the world move the grasses and trees. We breathe in the breath of Christ, of love and of life. Through our lungs and into our blood it flows. Our hearts beat, carrying it throughout our bodies. The breath of Christ flows through our arteries and into our capillaries. Muscles use it to move. Neurons use it to fire. Our souls use it to imagine, to dream and to pray. The heartbeat of the universe pulses through us, through each of us separately and through all of us together, nourishing our bodies and our souls.
Then, taking the byproducts of our bodies’ work back through capillaries and veins to our lungs, it expels them. We breathe out a life-giving brew for all the plants around us. All the leaves joyfully take in our exhale, glory in its life-giving power. Sap flows like blood into twigs and branches, down trunks to roots: Christ’s breath, Christ’s blood.
Plants expel and animals inhale, animals expel and the vegetation takes it in. Inhale and exhale, we are connected to all the living beings on our planet: squirrels and birds, yellowjackets and spiders, orchids and dandelions, redwoods and willows, rattlesnakes and frogs.
Jesus breathed on them and said, “receive Holy Spirit.” Breath quickens blood, quickens soul, moves our spirits in exaltation and our bodies in dance. Wind moves the clouds in patterns across the sky: Ruach, Creator’s companion — breath of God, Word of God.
We are all connected. Masks that stop virus-carrying droplets do not stop the air that flows from us into the world and do not halt the air that arrives in our nostrils, the exhale of living things. The air in my lungs links me to you, just as your heartbeat links you to me. It is all the universal breath of Christ. We are all pumping the universal blood of Christ. May we acknowledge the gift that is Holy Spirit, alive in our bodies, alive in our souls, moving in creative patterns that always evolve, always connect, bring us love, bring us God.
Receive Holy Spirit. Receive. Receive.
Image: Icon written by author.