Breath and Prayer

Breath and Prayer

by Eilín Teeling AMMM                    Ireland            03.08.2023

In the winter of 2022, I was ill with pneumonia, a serious respiratory infection.  I needed powerful medicine of strong antibiotics, steroids, and our home nebuliser (breathing in a fine mist of yet more medicine) to get well which I very much appreciated.  Thankfully I avoided being admitted to hospital.  I slowly improved over time.

In the fog of illness, I doubted whether I would become well again.  I found it difficult to feel connected to God.  I couldn’t meditate as I was distracted by the sounds of my breathing, of rattles, wheezes and interrupted by coughing.  God seemed to be hiding behind a cloud and I felt I was being tested; “my God, why have you forsaken me?(Mk 15:34).

I remembered then Julian of Norwich (1342 – 1416).  She developed a positive attitude as she lived through illness and a time of dreadful plague in England.  She asked God about sin and suffering and received a response which showed God’s love and compassion; “I make all things well and you will see that every kind of thing will be well.”  She reflected on this as it was difficult to understand how things could be well in the midst of suffering and plague.  It came to her that Love is the meaning, that all will be well through love.

I drew comfort from this, repeating to myself “all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.”  I began to concentrate on the present moment and to feel blessed by the loving care that I received from my family.

I began to reflect on breathing, something we take for granted.  Air is all around us and we breathe it in every second of every day.  We receive the breath of life from God, and at Pentecost, Jesus breathed the Holy Spirit on the disciples. God is right here with us, in every breath, in the Holy Spirit.  How could I doubt God when the Holy Spirit is with my breath, just as air is, nudging me to stay connected, to love.

For all those who are struggling with illness, I pray that they receive the medical and loving care they need, and they sense God’s love with each breath.