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Breathe

The human breathe, the sacred remnants of God’s breathe into Adam. Every breath we take is a derivation of His original divine inspiration. Pause and breathe. Think of the first breath, that first awareness of life and pulse. It is a force. When each of my children were born, they had their first breath. I missed Cameron’s because I was in such distress. When Evan was born, I remember his first breath. They clamped and cut the cord and he breathed; he moved and filled his lungs with air for the first time. I could see the vitality. He now existed separate from me. Time was distorted and slowed down. He was real, Evan was a person.

When I was in medical school, I remember studying the anatomy of the thorax, the rib cage and its contents. It is such a testament to the grand design of the human body. Architecture, physics and fluid mechanics. There are 12 paired ribs on each side. Six attach directly to the breast bone, or sternum. The 7th-10th ribs connect to the cartilage that is at the bottom of the rib cage. There are two “floating” ribs or “short ribs that originate off the spine but don’t attach in the front. Between the breastbone(sternum), collar bones and the ribs the chest cage protects the vital organs within. We can be punched, tackled by a 250lb defensive lineman, slammed into a steering wheel, fly off a jet ski and the heart and lungs are safe. The bones of the thorax absorb the impact, distribute the energy and protect. All the while, we keep breathing which is driven by the diaphragm. The diaphragm acts as a siphon pulling air into the lungs when we inhale. When the diaphragm relaxes, we exhale. That is just the mechanics, the things that occur on the cellular level between the blood that circulates through the heart and lungs is perfect. The design is elegant yet simple. All of it happens without one conscious thought. Breathing is a primitive drive. So innate. It is hardwired into us.

Occasionally, I find myself holding my breath. I hold my breath when I am anxious, afraid, worried, anticipating something. The lack of breathing coincides with the moments in life when I feel doubtful, hopeless, unsure. Is there a connection between the lack of breathing and a loss of  faith?  If I just breathe. If I just inhale and exhale, my sense of safety returns. I feel grounded. I feel life. So….I breathe.

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