I woke up today and I can breathe. Breathing, as it turns out is a wonderful thing and I am quite happy that I am able to do so today. Lately I have struggled with some coughing and sniffling which has an impact on breathing, yet nothing like those who have chronic difficulty with breathing.  I supposedly have asthma, but I’ve only negligibly seen any effects in my life from it; like when running it becomes obvious to me that I am not as gifted in the lungs as an average counterpart. Nonetheless, my lungs are sufficient to afford me the capability to run if needed.  Had I the encumbrance of an oxygen tank as many men and women do, running would be classifiable as an extreme activity.  Instead I have been given a level of health that it clearly in the realm of acceptable and normal.  I am grateful for this. Today I find this gratitude focused on the ability to take in a breathe without the assistance of some sort of medical device – unlike when sleeping, during which time I require a CPAP machine.

This morning as I wake I find myself able to prepare a breakfast and breathe the entire time. I spend no energies on thought to accomplish the task, I simply breathe. The activity is automatic and unthought. But what a wonderful thing! I don’t worry that I can’t breathe as I put a cup of water into a microwave to heat it. I have no need to concern myself that I might forget to breathe as I scramble some eggs. God keeps my body functioning and breathing as I go about all the tasks that I must do in order to eat. What a wonderful gift it is that I can go about my business each and every day without a conscious remembering to breathe.

To forget to breathe means to be dead.  To stop breathing means not being able to see, or smell or eat and taste, or to share food with loved ones. If breathing has stopped for a man, so has he.  I remember the mixed feelings as I watched my mother struggle taking her last breaths.  Hour after hour went by as her breaths became more and more labored.  A breath so unusual to me, but instantly recognizable by the hospice nurse as the breaths of a dying individual.  My mother, not apparently conscious, struggled to breathe.  Each of those breaths she took was obviously a gift of graciousness from God. I certainly count it a gift of graciousness from God that I was able to hold my mothers’ hand as she took those last breaths.  She held me as I took my fist breaths.  Neither of us consciously or intentionally decided to breathe or not, we simply did, unwittingly keeping time with the precise metronome of breath given to us by God.

As I write, and thank God for breath, I can take in a deep breath with intention, I can without my breathing for a moment.  Try as I may, I am incapable of stopping my breathing.  God simply will not grant the authority to cease breathing to me or to anyone else. He is the creator of my body and reserves the right to dictate the first and last breaths in my life.  For each breath taken so far, thank you God for having given it to me.  For all those yet I store for me, thank you.  Each breath is a beautiful gift to me for which I fail to show an appropriate gratitude.