By the Reverend Canon Caleb J. Lee,
President of the Standing Committee for the Diocese of South Carolina
We are in that portion of Eastertide where the readings have shifted from stories of the resurrected Jesus to Jesus preparing his disciples for the inevitable day of Ascension, where his resurrected physical body will leave them. They will no longer see him in the flesh, but he is preparing them for the new way in which he will be with them always—even to the end of the age.
In the gospel story from the Sixth Sunday of Easter, Jesus tells his disciples that when he goes to the Father, he will not leave them as orphans. He will send them an Advocate, the Spirit of Truth, that will be their helper, and live in them always.
This Spirit of Truth is God’s deep and abiding love. God’s love is always present with us. Always.
Love is intangible. We cannot see it in the way that we see other physical things. But we can feel it. We can receive it. We can give it. We begin to see it and experience it as it encounters the physical world.
This is the same as Spirit. We cannot see it. It too is intangible. The Spirit is depicted as a mighty rushing wind in the Acts of the Apostles. We cannot see the wind. However, we know it is there because we have watched it blow through the trees, and we have felt it across our skin during this amazing spring. We begin to see it and experience it as it encounters the physical world.
The Spirit of God was present at creation, hovering over the deep. God speaks creation into existence with a breath. God breathed life into the nostrils of humankind, making us more than dust or clay, but animated and spirited beings. It was good. Spirit and breath are analogous in the Old Testament. It is the same concept. The Spirit is the very Breath of God. We cannot see the air we breathe, but we can feel it. That breath is God’s Spirit; always present with us. In fact, the Gospel of John, in its own story of Pentecost, depicts the Risen Christ breathing the Holy Spirit onto the disciples.
Breathing is a touchy subject these days. We have to do it to live, but many of us are hesitant about doing so without a mask in public places. I have had to get used to wearing a mask. The first week or so, I found it very cumbersome and difficult to breathe. Those of us with seasonal allergies, asthma, or any lung ailment know all too well how much of a gift a full and deep breath can be to the body and the soul. Breathing centers us. Breathing calms us down. What do they say to do in the midst of a panic attack? Take deep breaths.
So my challenge to you is to “just breathe.” Go ahead. I will wait. In and out. In and out. In and out.
It is amazing how much good a few deep breaths will do for you. In these times of uncertainty, anxiety, and fear; remember to breathe. For when you breathe, you are receiving the Spirit of Truth. You are receiving God’s abiding love and presence. That is good news. There is more good news though. Even when there is no more breath in us, we are the Lord’s. That is the joy of Easter. But for now, just breathe.
During the uncertain times created by the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic in March 2020, leadership of the diocese will send out regular meditations on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays for the next while as we all adjust to a new chapter of living and being the Church.