“Run, run as fast as you can, you can’t catch me, I’m the Gingerbread Man!” It’s funny what goes through your head when you’re running up a steep forest track really fast, flat out of breath, and lacking the sufficient oxygen to make your brain function properly.
I’ve just come back from my usual lunchtime 40 minute mountain run up and down Mt Victoria. Technically it’s a mountain, but it’s really just a very steep hill in the middle of Wellington. By the time I get to the top I’m usually mildly delusional, bent over double and huffing and puffing like the big bad wolf. There is really not much else I can do at this point, my heart is racing, my muscles, both of them, are screaming out, “What have you done!”, I can’t talk back, all I can do is breath in and out. After about 3 minutes everything is back to normal, and it’s time for the big downhill part, my favourite part.
Scientists tell us that the normal breathing rate for adults is around 12 breaths per minute, at rest. Most people take shallow breathes at around 15 – 20 breaths per minute. Ideally the best respitory rate for maximum brain and body oxygen levels is around 3 – 4 deep breaths per minute. This is the rate we breathe at when we are asleep.
With all that goes on in our day we usually don’t stop to think about our breathing from a health perspective. Even more rare is to stop and think about your breathing from a spiritual perspective. Breathing is the one thing that is common to all of us. We all started life the same way – with one breath. We will all, one day, take our last breath. God is at work here.
And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground,
And breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being
~ Genesis 2:7
The name LORD appears in the bible over 6,000 times. Of course it wasn’t originally an English word. In Hebrew the name LORD is basically four letters, Y, H, V, H. In English this has come to be known as ‘Yahweh’. In Hebrew it is pronounced, ‘Yod, Heh, Vav, Heh.’
In the Hebrew culture the name of the Lord was considered so sacred that it should not be used at all. Ancient Rabbi’s believed that the letters Y, H, V, H represented breathing sounds. Could it be that the letters when pronounced together is essentially the sound of breathing?
Is ‘Yod, Heh, Vav, Heh’ really the sound of breathing? Is this why we often refer to God as closer to us than breathing? Perhaps God is even closer than we thought. I’m not sure of the answer to this. If this is true how does this change your view of yourself as a living ‘God-breathed’ human being?
Try this for a couple of minutes:
Inhale and say ‘Yod’ for 3 seconds, exhale and say ‘Heh’ for 3 seconds, inhale ‘Vav’ for 3 seconds, exhale ‘Heh’ for 3 seconds. Repeat and see if you can do this at a 3-4 breaths per minute rate. Then, try doing the same thing without moving your lips or your tongue. Interesting huh? Sounds very much like the sounds we make when we breathe to me.
‘So what?’” I hear you ask. Good question.
In the Bible, the word for ‘breathe’ is the same word for ‘spirit’. In Hebrew this word is ‘ruah’, in Greek the word is ‘pheuma’. The bible says that when God takes away the ‘ruah’, the breath of all living creatures, then they die and return to dust. But when God sends the ‘ruah’, the Spirit, they are created. Perhaps this leaves us with more questions than answers.
What we do know is that God created us, breathed life into us. We have His Spirit, our breath drives our words and directs them. God may be closer to us than breathing, or he may just be in our breath.
So what about you? What do you need to breathe in or out today? Here or somewhere, share your story. It may just be the breath of life for someone today.
Live and Breathe
Breathe in me
Fill my heart
More of you
How great thou art
Breath in me
Your tounges of fire
Let me speak
Your heart’s desire
Breathe in me
Your life today
All this is yours
Yod Heh Vav Heh