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patterns of ink

How fruitless to be ever thinking yet never embrace a thought... to have the power to believe and believe it's all for naught. I, too, have reckoned time and truth (content to wonder if not think) in metaphors and meaning and endless patterns of ink. Perhaps a few may find their way to the world where others live, sharing not just thoughts I've gathered but those I wish to give. Tom Kapanka

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Breath

The most constant rhythms of life go unnoticed.

Yesterday we were all enjoying the sun and the water of the gulf and eventually came in to flop down on warm welcoming towels. Don't you love that moment, the sand under the terry cloth forms to your front and face, and you just lie there—eyes not quite shut— listening to the rhythm of waves.

Have you ever seen in that instant, with your head sideways, eyes squinting toward the bright sky, that you can study your own eyelashes as if in a microscope? Each lash is in perfect focus a centimeter from your eye. They are always right there, of course, but we don't see them. I'm not sure why, but under those unique conditions they might briefly stand out like bent dune grass between us and what lies beyond the horizon.

It’s that way with rhythms as well. We pay heed to the grand rhythms of days and seasons, but others are so close they go unnoticed... like the beating of our heart. We grow accustomed even to rhythms somewhat in our control... like the breathing in and out* that began the moment we were born.

I finished the “Borne” post (two below) a week ago, but it is not quite finished with me. I’ve been mulling it over for days. The theme from "Flower Duet" keeps playing in my mind as do the images of Ray Bethell's kites—not blown away in the wind but borne up...and in the control of grace.

Some readers kindly used the word inspirational in comments following that post. Interestingly enough, that word, inspire means “to breathe into.” There's that word again. We can't seem to escape the significance of breath. “Borne” was about the breath of God.
This post is about the breath of Life.

Hold your breath for 30 seconds as you read this paragraph. Ready? Start. You are suspending a rhythm of life. If you do this for too long, your brain will begin screaming, “Hey, silly, let your body do what God made it to do. Let it breathe until it’s time not to.” Still holding?....
Now exhale and breathe in again. Ahhh... isn't it amazing?
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Earth’s air outside our bodies has just the right amount of oxygen; our lungs have just the right design to take that oxygen from the air and pass it along to our blood; the heart sends the oxygenated blood coursing through our veins to millions of cells and muscles, including those that power the billows of our lungs that breathe in and out the air. Just as our brain whispered for breath as we read that last paragraph, our body itself cries out for air, "Keep breathing, lungs! Keep beating, heart! Your rhythms of life sustain me!"

This is just a hint of what the Psalmist meant when he said, we are “fearfully and wonderfully made”? It is frightening. It is wonderful.

Some day, for all of us, that last breath of life is let go. The opposite of inspire happens… and we expire (we literally ex-spire, breathe out). The “spire” part of both words is the root of the word spirit. The spirit leaves us with that last breath. This may all seem too obvious to write about, but I confess I've never quite thought of it this way before.

Like all truth it does not require human thought or belief to be so. It’s simply true. Our beating heart and breathing in and out measure time more surely than a clock, for they measure our time.

Is that what is meant by “fearfully…made”—that we are afraid it may stop working? I don’t think so. Most of us have no desire to dwell on the brevity of life, but we do not fear life's beginning, middle, and end. To me, it is fearful in that the complexity is beyond comprehension.
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By now, we're confident that science has sorted out the mechanics of how most things work, but we're afraid to admit that we don't know why they work or how they began working. We're afraid of the fearful miracle... afraid of the implications of being "fearfully and wonderfully made." It's not the wonder that frightens us... it's the word made. What if the breath of life is inseparable from the breath of God? Afraid of the answer, we pose two choices: to believe that breath and the God who made it has purpose. Or to pretend... that it all just happened.

If it all just happened, then we owe nothing to anyone. We're accountable only to ourselves. We can live and let live. We can eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die (the Dairy Queen song from the 70’s dropped the part about dying). The problem with pretending the intricate design and delicate balance we call "life" just happened is that we lose the relationship with God that prompted creation in the first place. We begin to think life is all about us. As a hit song in 1969 put it...
"...When that final moment comes
and I'm breathing my last breath,
I'll be saying to myself:
Is that all there is, is that all there is?
If that's all there is, my friends,
then let's keep dancing.
Let's break out the booze
and have a ball... If that's all...there is"
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I'm writing this post on the third balcony (where I wrote Monday's). This house has a metal roof, and for some reason, the builders left the corners of the eaves open, leaving a perfect place for bird nests. I just took a picture of the sparrow that is chirping at the vestibule of the nest. It's not a particularly pretty song, but it does seem to be a joyful noise.
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For me the "fear" of being wonderfully made is the same fear as in "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." [Proverbs 9:10] I do not share these thoughts to "preach" a sermon or to begin a debate about origins. I have no desire to convince your mind of something you've no desire to think about.
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It is simply my hope that TRUTH will ring true in your heart, in your lungs, and in your spirit... so that the request of the same Psalmist who spoke of being fearfully and wonderfully made can be uttered between you and God.
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The very same Psalmist in the very last verse of the very last Psalm implored:
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"Let everything that has breath praise the LORD! Praise the LORD!"
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Now watch the Youtube video of Peggy Lee's "Is That All There Is?", a sobering song about an empty existence that asks an honest question and give man's most common response. Here is another bizarre montage with the song. As you think on these things, you may rather hear a more current song about how BREATHING and living [with no mention of God] begs for purpose as seen in this Youtube montage of David Byrne's "Like Humans Do." [Here are the lyrics.]
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Life is not meant to be empty of meaning or full of self. We were created for relationship--with both God and one another. That is the story of both the Old and New Testaments. When our breath and life helps others remember this--that is Praise. As an example, listen to Kathy Trocolli's "Hallehujahs" on track 5 here, [Here are the lyrics .]
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[*Breathing out and breathing in is described as second-nature in the lyrics of "I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face,"]

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12 Comments:

Blogger Julie said...

BEAUTIFUL! Thanks for the reminder.

Julie B.

23/5/07 10:44 AM  
Blogger the walking man said...

Not being smart mouthed (see I can watch my language) but what I don't understand is what is so hard to understand?

wonderfully thoughtful post but as you say (paraphrasing) it makes no matter what we think is truth for truth is as it knows itself to be.

23/5/07 5:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another "inspiring" post, POI. That Peggy Lee song is sad. The link says it won a grammy? It cannot imagine that as a hit.
I understand what you mean about truth but why do you say it does not need to be believed? Isn't that the whole point? I do believe but you are right that I take it all for granted.

23/5/07 8:33 PM  
Blogger Nancy said...

There is so much "food for thought" in this post Tom. I have already read it three times and each time something else jumps out at me. I am fascinated by the fact that the words for spirit, wind, and breath are the same in the Biblical languages. The Bible tells us about the invisible force... from God, in God, and through God and that God gives us spirit, wind and breath. If we have a relationship with God then these forces work with us helping us SOAR, but if we struggle against this force... we can only trust ourselves, we despair, and life is meaningless. Paul called this the "spirit of slavery". (Many of these same thoughts were written in my daily devotion, from THE UPPER ROOM DISCIPLINES, for May 22nd... Romans 8:14-17) I am delighted to tell you...I am SOARING and that is a blessing indeed.

23/5/07 9:20 PM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

Julie B.
Thank you. Some may think about such things all the time, but for me the study was a needed reminder and much more.

TWM,
Having now written this, I agree it does seem obvious, but I can only assure you there are many to whom these thoughts are as quaint as an Amish buggy and equally out of step with modern thought. ( BTW, Thanks for your care in word choice. =)

Anon,
I actually remember hearing the song on the radio. I agree it's sad. Right up there with "Send in the Clowns," but it's so existentialistic that I suppose it struck a chord with the late 60's listeners.
I re-read what I said about truth to see what you were asking. You're right... truth is to be believed, and the consequences of rejecting it are very real. My point is that it does not become "TRUTH" because someone believes it.
It is commonly held thought that truth is created by the individual. What's true for me may not be true for you. I'm okay; you're okay. Whatever you believe can be your truth; whatever I believe can be my truth--and that's okay.
I disagree. Any TRUTH that becomes true because I say so is not what I would call a solid foundation for life. A God who exists in the mind of those who "believe" is not capable of the miracle of life. In fact, I would say that it is the paragraph about "fear" that bests explains why the view or self-created truth is embraced by some. It keeps man in control of his own fate individually and collectively. Sorry that was so long. Good Question.

Nancy,
Thank you for reading this three times. I've read it many times, too. =) To some it may be either obvious or ridiculous, but I'm breathing as I type, giving it no thought whatsoever... that is my point. It is so obvious, so simple, so miraculous, so close, so within and constant... that we miss its meaning and implications about time and eternity.

23/5/07 11:50 PM  
Blogger Julie said...

Tom,

Let's see... where to begin. I too have to read most of your posts over and over and that's part of the reason I keep coming back. I always feel a little smarter after visiting P.O.I. :)

Anyway, a few of the many parts that I could relate to today are when you said "What if the breath of life is inseparable from the breath of God?". Having held my daughter as she took her last breath, I can definitely say that God was there at the moment, perhaps because as you said, they are inseparable.

Also, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom" Proverbs 9:10, really hit home with where I had been lately. Trying to work through the fear that I had done something to deserve this. Anyway, I am happy to say that I am finally starting to get it! Praise the Lord!

ps What is it with you and "Julie's" anyway? (I've decided to claim "Julie in Colorado" by the way!)

Julie in Colorado

24/5/07 12:32 PM  
Blogger Dr.John said...

I enjoyed this post. i think a lot about breathing because I have COPD. Every breath is precious. Every day a gift from God.

24/5/07 8:42 PM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

Julie in Colorado,
Thank you for adding CO to your name. That helps a lot since I think there is at least 3 Julies who read here. =) Great name!
I'm humbled by your comment and by an application so very close to your heart. You do understand truth better than us because of your loss (as does Dr. John in the comment below yours because of his COPD).
I remember reading of your precious little one. The delicate balance of the miracle of life is beyond my comprehension. I will not add to your profound observations but I am so glad God is helping you and your husband and Jackson through this one day, one breath at a time. Thank you for sharing.

Dr. John,
I've been reading your blog long enough to know you had something that keeps your friends praying for you. I did not know it was COPD. You know then what I mean that the constant rhythms go unnoticed-- you notice them and value them for the miracle they are. Thank you for letting us know why.

24/5/07 10:39 PM  
Blogger SusieQ said...

You can add me to the list of people who read your posts two and three times to catch the many significant parts to them.

I would feel such an emptiness if I were to think that this creation, this life we see all around us is not by design and has no purpose to it. When you realize how complicated a single cell is in your body even and then how all your cells work together in concert for the whole of you and that you, yourself, are just a very small part of the whole of life, how can you possibly conclude that life has no designer, no creator. It would be intellectually dishonest to conclude that. I marvel at the miracle of life. I am in awe of it. For me, there is God. I see his handiwork all around me.

24/5/07 11:32 PM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

SQ,
You're right..."It would be intellectually dishonest..." The end of your comment reminded me of a song I haven't heard in a long time sung by Kathy Troccoli called "Hallelujahs." It's perfect for the close of this post.

"A purple sky to close the day
I wade the surf where dolphins play
The taste of salt, the dance of waves
And my soul wells up with hallelujahs

A lightning flash, my pounding heart
A breaching whale, a shooting star
Give testimony that You are
And my soul wells up with hallelujahs

CHORUS:
Oh praise Him all His mighty works
There is no language where you can't be heard
Your song goes out to all the earth
Hallelujah, hallelujah,

The pulse of life within my wrist
A fallen snow, a rising mist
There is no higher praise than this..."
I've added it. Hope the links work.
http://www.rhapsody.com/kathytroccoli/
soundsofheaven/hallelujahs

Nancy,
We're back from down south and I've had time to re-read these comments. Isn't it remarkable how isolated "studies" often overlap
Your groups study of Romans 8: "14For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons[a] of God. 15For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, "Abba! Father!" 16The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God..." The use of the term Abba (meaning "Daddy") reminded me of a post called "Wonder Is" that I linked to the word "beginning" in the last paragraph.

25/5/07 1:30 AM  
Blogger MICKY said...

Three years ago I was wandering around [mental hospital] completely shattered physically, emotionally and spiritually. The mental torment I was experiencing was absolutely terrifying. Every waking second, I was having horrifying images from my past. I thought I was being punished for my past sins. My whole life flashed before my eyes and I felt I had failed miserably in my journey through life. The whole experience was an awakening [THE LONG DARK NIGHT OF THE SOUL] a metamorphosis. God was slowly penetrating the shield I had put up all those desperate years. I had no "I" - that is what God wanted for me, to become Christ centered, not “I” centered [in retrospect]. There is nothing in this world, but the saving grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. He eventually delivered me from my HELL; when I got down on my knees and asked Him for mercy and forgiveness for my sins. God breathed on me. Praise the LORD!!
PEACE BE WITH YOU
MICKY

7/7/07 10:12 AM  
Blogger MICKY said...

LUKE8: 16
"No - one lights a lamp and hides it in a jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, he puts it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light."
PEACE BE WITH YOU
MICKY

7/7/07 10:22 AM  

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