“Take a deep breath.

“Really deep.

“No, deeper.

“Breathe in from your stomach.”

My husband, Stephen, looked at me from across the dining room table. Charlotte, our 1-year-old daughter, was seated next to him. Another day was upon us. Stephen took a deep, relaxing breath.

“I haven’t done that in a long time. I haven’t taken a deep breath.”

So I join in.

We take deep breaths, one after another.

Deeper and deeper.

Lightening my shoulders.

Settling into the in and out rhythms of breathing.

Releasing the nerves.

Forgetting about anything other than that breath at that moment.

It’s been so long since we both sat and breathed deeply.

Morning at the table consists of so many tasks: preparing and feeding Charlotte; getting her in the highchair after she chases and sits on the dog; saying a quick prayer; having Charlotte check out everything that’s on the table, looking for a toy or other food; reaching out to drink from a glass; throwing the spoon to the floor; waiting for the dog to jump in and pick up any tossed food; cutting her food into pieces as we watch her analyze everything she puts into her mouth.

And somewhere in between all this, we prepare and eat our breakfast, too.

On this particular morning—in between feeding and picking up food and eating—Stephen took a deep breath. And I did too. And then something happened. Charlotte took a breath, too. We could hear her breathing in and out, we could see a smile on her face. She wanted to be a part of what we were doing. The three of us sat listening to one another, to our bodies and to the Spirit that connects us to one another. United as one.

We needed that moment. That breath. We needed to be reminded that we are bound together not only by our love and life together, but by the Spirit that first breathed life into each of us. In the stillness of the early morning and in the craziness of life, God’s breath of life—love, grace and hope—never stops.

I’d like to say that we continue to breathe deeply together. That it’s become intimately woven into our morning routine. That our morning routine includes deep breaths that are just as necessary as the food we eat. But we don’t. The days come and go. We have to eat. We have to work. We have places to go and people to see.

We forget to take deep breaths.

But we have those moments, those breaths we do take. They are glimpses of the Spirit breathing in us, remembrances of the first breath that brought us to life.

Each day we arise anew. Ready to savor this gift of life. And as the mornings come and go we will find ourselves seated together, and we will know what to do. For the Spirit never leaves us. We will breathe deeply. And we will be united.

 

Kimberly Knowle-Zeller
Kimberly Knowle-Zeller is an ordained ELCA pastor, mother of two and spouse of an ELCA pastor. She lives with her family in Cole Camp, Mo. Her website is kimberlyknowlezeller.com.

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