Breathe with me by Trelawney Grenfell-Muir



Breathe with me.

I know. I know. I understand.
Breathe with me anyway.
It hurts. It’s scary. It’s horrible. It’s relentless. I know.
Just breathe.
Every time we breathe out, our bodies release things we do not want.
So breathe it out. All of it. Let it go.
Deep breath. However you prefer—mouth, nose—just breathe.
What do you need to let go?

For me right now, there’s rage.
All the people refusing the masks, refusing the vaccine, even friends of mine who have watched me suffer with post-COVID syndrome for almost a year, still blaming me somehow for my illness.
Breathe. Let it out. Don’t have to carry it anymore.
There’s fear, too — friends, family, fighting COVID, or taking dangerous, unnecessary risks.
Long, slow breaths. Release. Into the loving matrix of Creation-Life-Love. I can’t hold this anymore. I release it.

There’s grief. Loss. Suffering. Isolation. Pain. Oh, breathe, let the tears flow, let the breaths and the tears just be what they are.
Stress. So much stress. We’re all frayed, so far beyond our limits. Breathe it out. Breathe it out again. Deep breaths – make noise if you want. Moan.
She cradles us in breath, the Divine Womb. She is the Source of our breath, and She is always cradling us, always breathing with us.
Breathe again. Close your eyes. Let your Holy Spirit bathe you in its healing power.
But it doesn’t fix anything, doesn’t DO anything!
I know. But it is enough. Just let it be. Be breath breathing itself.
What if you deserve to let go?
What if you deserve to be cradled in healing Love?
What if you deserve just to be?

Breathe. It sometimes feels so nice. Breath in, breath out.
Your body is letting go of anything you do not want.
You can release it now. Breathe it out. It’s ok.
Anywhere you want to feel your breath is ok. Wherever you want it to go, just breathe it there, and then release.
There’s no way to do this wrong. It’s your breath. It’s your breathing. A gift your body has, a magical, powerful, simple, holy gift. Breathe however feels good and right to you.
No rush. Take your time. As long as you want. As often as you want.
What if you deserve compassion?
What if you deserve to be bathed in healing Love?
What if you deserve to rest in your breath?
Breathe, darling. Close your eyes if you like. With every breath, you are holy.

In my Methodist tradition, which focuses heavily on the Holy Spirit, we sing a breathing hymn I love. Here is my rewritten version:

Breathe on me, Breath of Love,
fill me with Life anew,
restore my soul with ev’ry breath,
to do what Love wouldst do.

Breathe on me, Breath of Love,
so shall I rest, secure,
cradled in Love’s bright healing peace,
and held in compassion pure.

Breathe on me, Breath of Love,
till I am wholly thine,
till body, spirit, all of me,
glows with thy Fire divine.

Breathe on me, Breath of Love,
until my heart is free,
and I perceive my ev’ry breath
is thine Eternity.

—Edwin Hatch (1878), revised.

Our world is so frayed right now. We are all at the end of our rope. We feel the same way most new mothers feel in capitalist patriarchies, in which motherhood means financial strain (or poverty), isolation, anxiety, constant demands, an inability to meet basic physical and mental health needs, and no escape from continuous, relentless emotional and physical labor. Women are expected to embrace this level of self-sacrificial stress in motherhood, as part of our female slave role in capitalist patriarchy, which defines our unpaid, unvalued labor as a natural extension of our biological sex. The burden on women is higher than ever these days, with women and even girls taking the lion’s share of extra household duties so that boys and men can continue in their education and careers. Women are suffering 100% of job losses as well.

In times like these, I keep turning to my faith for comfort and strength. In my tradition, the Holy Spirit is the Divine Breath, the Source of Life, which animates all living things and all Creation as sacred. It comes originally from the Hebrew “ruach,” a feminine noun. So when I take time just to breathe, that is sacred time, allowing my true, divine self to feel its divinity (as Methodism’s founder John Wesley might say). I do not take breathing for granted. After my COVID experience, how could I ever take it for granted again? So, for me, breathing time is holy — “set apart” as a communion, a Eucharist of Grace: life-giving, healing, restorative, and liberative. Almost every night for the past eleven months, I have spent time lying in bed just breathing: feeling the breath of the trees behind me in the woods, allowing their wellness to enter me, breathing out to them whatever I want to let go. In breathing this way, I am able to understand bodily that my breath is Goddess. Goddess who is ever birthing Love and Liberation. The Divine Source of All, who is every justice, every healing, every restoration. My breath is fair economies and safe respected female bodies; it is just relationships and female thriving. This is my breath. This is the Source of the Healing that rebirths every death into Life. This is Goddess.

So, breathe with me, sisters. And brothers. She is here, and we are the ones who breathe her. What if we deserve to be bathed in Healing Love? She knows. She understands.

Just breathe.

 

Trelawney Grenfell-Muir teaches courses about Sex, Dating, Marriage, and Work in the Religion and Theological Studies Department at Merrimack College and about Cross Cultural Conflict in the Department of Conflict Resolution, Human Security, and Global Governance at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. A Senior Discussant at the Religion and the Practices of Peace Initiative at Harvard University, she holds an M.Div. from the Boston University School of Theology with a concentration in Religion and Conflict, and a Ph.D. in Conflict Studies and Religion with the University Professors Program at Boston University. She currently writes articles, book chapters, and liturgical resources about feminist, nature-based Christianity.



Categories: Embodiment, General, Women's Spirituality, Women's Voices

Tags: , , ,

22 replies

  1. Powerful, thank you, I feel calmer already ..

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Breathing. We can no longer take it for granted. We are breathing in particulate matter that is hurting our lungs. Asthma is an epidemic in our culture – and around the world forest fires are sucking away the precious oxygen that all breathing creatures need to live. I wonder when it will become real that breathing has actually become dangerous? I have emphysema and so I am never far from thinking about breathing (- It is ironic that I would need up with a disease like this after advocating for the life of all trees for so many many years). While we breathe in and out with awareness let us also commit to nurturing – planting and caring for trees, advocating fiercely to protect the 1 -3 percent of our mature forests – this is all we have left in this country. Old growth forests store the most carbon… Breathing, women, and trees go together – if we don’t begin to develop the awareness – no one will.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Amen, Sara. Amen and Amen. We are all joined in breathing, everything on the planet, respiration — at the cellular and the organ level– is the sustenance of us all. One of my seminary professors said that the church inhales the Spirit in worship and exhales in service/action. I hope whenever I am nourished, I pass that nourishment on to the wellness of all. <3 <3

      Like

  3. Breath as crucial, breath as all, until taken away or taken for granted………………………….I breathe for you and pray you soon know total health (from someone who has lived with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome for 34 yrs.) Your writings continue to
    be totally inspirational, thank you so much. Blessings to you.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thank you, Jan. After several days of limited ability, it is a balm to my spirit to feel so understood and appreciated. I hope and pray your CFS will get some relief with all the research being done on Long Covid. May every peace be yours, sister. <3 <3

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  4. Beautiful, wise, and so needed. I appreciate your highlighting the losses women are sustaining.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Max. It’s all connected, even when it doesn’t seem obvious. I appreciate the connections you draw in your work as well. Blessings and peace to you. <3

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  5. Thank you! Breathing with you. Thanks for reminding me of a beloved hymn.

    Liked by 4 people

  6. Yes, indeed, Breathing Is Good. That’s one of my mantras. I also have a little sign on my wall: “Things to do today: Breathe In. Breathe out.” As a chronic asthmatic, I appreciate breathing on a purely physical level. But where else you take breathing! Into the spiritual realm! Breathe to ruach. Breathe to the Goddess. So mote it be.

    And you’re right about anger and the dreadful state the world’s in right now. Women and children suffering hunger and just about anything else it’s possible to suffer while, worldwide, male capitalists just get richer and richer. Breathe through isolation and anger and fear. Weeeelllll, I’ve been feeling so bored and lonely, I’m even thinking about rereading Tolkien. Nothing wrong with that, you say. All I have to do is get out my stepladder and climb up to the top shelf and take down books that nearly touch my ceiling. Breathe, Climb. Breathe. Find Our Mother in our breath. Bright blessings to all of us during the pandemic. Let’s all keep breathing every day!

    Liked by 6 people

    • You’re such a vivid writer, Barbara, even in your comments. Thank you. Have you started Tolkien again? I listen to LOTR in the Cornish language every night, audio files, as I’m falling asleep. It’s one of the most comforting books I’ve ever encountered, adventure though it is. “Find Our Mother in our breath”… Amen. I love that so much. Breathe, climb, breath. I’m breathing and climbing with you, sister. <3 <3

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  7. What a beautiful, healing post! It makes me think of how healing tree aerosols are to both our minds and bodies – a physical manifestation of the spiritual benefits of the intentional, grace-filled breathing you write about so eloquently! Thank you!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you so much, Carol!! And thank you for sharing your thoughts about tree aerosols. I agree, we need them very, very much. I never, not for one day, take for granted that I live next to the woods again, after many years away. I love your description of trees as physical manifestations of the spiritual grace of breathing… if I were an artist, I would try to paint that. But you painted it beautifully with your words! Thank you! <3

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  8. Made me cry. Thank you, Trelawney. Powerful and holy. Women are the ones who have usually developed the most useful skills to deal with disruption and destabilization; but of course, are either exploited for it or laid off or both. Sometimes, there’s nothing left to do but breathe, and realize we are never alone; our breath connects us to all life, eternally. <3

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you, darling. Great point about women having the most useful skills. At least we value and appreciate each other, and I hope and pray we will lift each other through our breathing, to more and more wellness and liberation. <3 <3 <3

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  9. Wow Trelawny, this is so healing, powerful, and instructive! Thank you for this post.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. An excellent and timely reminder. :)

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Beautiful post, Trelawny. May your breath become easier and healthier as you heal from Post-Covid syndrome.

    Like

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