By: Sr. Karoline, cmj
“When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit…” (John 20:22-23)
I’ve been going through some painful physical issues for the past few months, to the point where I’m in near-constant pain. That hasn’t been good for my mental health, so I’ve struggled with depression a lot more than usual.
Because I’m stubborn, it took me a while to turn fully to God with these issues. When I finally did, I let loose on Him. Tears, anger, grief, stress – all of it. I completely opened up to God about everything in my life and how hard it is sometimes for me to turn to Him in those moments – I feel like I should be strong enough to handle things on my own. After all, there’s so much pain and anguish in the world, who am I to bug him with my much smaller (in the grand scheme of things) issues? Opening up to God helped me see how foolish and proud I was being. God loves me and is there for me. He wants to hear it all, the good, bad, and ugly. He longs for me to talk with Him about things and shutting him out doesn’t help anything.
That was my first lesson. The second came towards the end of my prayer/crying time.
Have you ever had a good cry? The kind where you are letting everything out? That was me, a sobbing mess. It was incredibly cathartic. As my tears slowly dried up, I was able to finally sit in silence with God and actually listen to what he was telling me. I drew one shaky breath and was instantly reminded of a moment from C.S. Lewis’s book “Prince Caspian”:
“Then, after an awful pause, the deep voice said, ‘Susan.’ Susan made no answer and the others thought she was crying. ‘You have listened to fears, child,’ said Aslan. ‘come, let me breathe on you. Forget them. Are you brave again?’
That quote has always been one of my favorites and hunting down the exact words led me down a rabbit hole of starting a good re-read of all the Chronicles of Narnia books. But I digress.
I’ve always loved the thought of seeing Aslan and having him breathe on me as he did for Susan. To actually see him (fyi, Aslan is a metaphor for Jesus/God, in case you didn’t know), and feel his touch and breath on me.
I meditated for a while on that quote and the Bible verse above. I love the accompanying image of the resurrected Jesus breathing on his disciples to share the Holy Spirit with them.
It’s those verses that the reality of the life and death of Jesus really hits me. He was breathing on them not just to share the Holy Spirit with them but to prove that he had risen from the dead and was truly alive again.
I pondered that wonderful truth and then I turned my mind to Elijah.
The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. (1 Kings 11-13)
In the silence after I sobbed my heart out to God, I was able to hear that gentle whisper. The breath of a resurrected Jesus and Aslan.
I’ve made a vow to spend more time in silence with God – because it is in those moments of stillness, those moments when you’ve cried your last tear and are filled with quiet that you can finally hear the breath of God. There is nothing more peaceful than that, my friends. I hope each of you can find that moment for yourself with Him as well.
Lord, thank you for reminding me of your presence in the quiet and still moments. Help me remember to focus on those times so I can hear your whisper and feel your cleansing breath on me. Amen.