Breath from the Breeze

By Rev. Anna Voinovich

About a month ago, four clergy friends and I received the exciting news that we’d been chosen for a grant that would financially support us as a covenant group for two years of spiritual growth and renewal. As we planned out our first months’ activities, each of us was to choose a spiritual practice that we would engage daily for a month before we got together for our first retreat. Knowing that I had some traveling that month, I wanted to pick something that didn’t require any special materials and that I could do anywhere, so I chose breath prayer.

Breathing, I thought to myself, is something I do every day. I’ve got this.

Except, each day as I attempted to engage in this practice, to quiet my mind, focus my thoughts, and control my breathing,
I just.
As I began, I’d choose a phrase and then couldn’t quite remember the words. I couldn’t quite decide with which words to inhale and which to exhale. I couldn’t quiet my mind. I couldn’t ignore the discomfort I felt, aware of my body in an unsettling way.

Until one day as I walked along the trail at the park near my home, I felt the coolness of the breeze against my skin. I watched as the grass swayed from its strong but gentle force. I listened to its constant, calming sound, And
The rhythm that I couldn’t find in my own words, the quiet I couldn’t find in forced silence, and the security I couldn’t find in my own still body was present in the breeze. The Spirit, Breath of God, was there in the wind, leading me, guiding me, filling me with sacred air when I couldn’t figure it out on my own.

With each step,
And inhale,
And exhale,
My prayer moved from, “Breathe on me breath of God.”
To Breathe on us.
Breathe on us, breath of God.

Breathe on us, breath of God.
All who hold their breath,
Waiting for medical results.
Waiting to be reunited with detained family members.
Waiting to live in our truth.
Waiting to see how family, faith communities, and friends will respond.
Breathe on us, breath of God.
All who have had the air forcibly removed from our lungs,
By white supremacy and transphobia.
By bullets that are more protected than the lives they take.
By domestic abuse.
By the powers they resist.
Breathe on us, breath of God.
All who find themselves listening to the final breaths of loved ones.
Breathe on us, breath of God.
All who are only offered polluted air to breathe.
Breathe on us, breath of God.
Help us inhale:
Breathe on us, breath of God.
Help us exhale:
All the toxins that pollute:
our bodies
Our minds
Our communities.
Breathe on us, breath of God.
Are ready
To breathe again,
Fill our lungs for each other.
Fill our hearts for each other.
Fill our lives for each other.
That we may recognize your Breath in each inhale and exhale
of your people.
Of your creation.
Of your kin-dom.
And deem them sacred.
And breathe along with them.
And breathe along with each other.
And breathe along with you.

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Anna VoinovichRev. Anna Voinovich currently serves as the Associate Pastor at Downers Grove First United Methodist Church in Illinois. They graduated from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary with a Masters of Divinity and currently serve on the Board of Trustees at the seminary. Anna is also a proud member of the Evodia Cohort and the United Methodist Queer Clergy Caucus. 

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