By: Rev. Candace Chellew-Hodge

This Sunday, April 8, 2018, we continue our Via Transformativa theme of “You Crack Me Up!” During this quarter, we’ll be exploring how the Holy “cracks” us open to reveal the true divine, spirit that dwells within each of us. 

One of the best ways to crack open that ego is to breathe deeply and be here in this present moment and we learned about the Buddhist meditation practice of Tonglen that can help us use the healing power of our breath in the world. This is what we explored this Sunday with an original tune written by Candace Chellew-Hodge. 

From the Hebrew Scriptures: Psalm 150: Let everything that has breath praise the Lord
From the Jesus Story: John 20:19-23: he breathed on them

From A Course in Miracles, Chapter 19: The Holy Spirit has given you love’s messengers to send

Sermon excerpt: 

The fastest way to enter into this Holy breath of the present moment and get out of the shallow, hyperventilation of our ego breath, is, as the psalmist tells us, to dwell on giving thanks and praise. Praise God for this earth, the psalmist tells us. Give thanks for everything God does in, through and around us at all times. Be so thankful that you want to pick up musical instruments and sing and dance about how grateful you are for beauty that surrounds us.

My song was not inspired by this psalm, but it was inspired by the beauty of God’s creation — especially the majesty of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Until I read this psalm, however, I didn’t fully understand my own song and how it fulfills the psalmists invitation to use praise to enter into the present moment. I always thought the chorus, singing about the present moment, was out of place with all the stuff about birds, blue skies and beer. But, now it makes perfect sense to me, because we step out of our shallow egoic breathing by simply noticing what is present around us, whether it’s a delicious apple, the smell of fresh coffee or the mist that covers the mountain’s valleys in the morning.

When we use the beauty of the world around us to remind us to breathe deeply the breath of our higher consciousness, we are acknowledging our connection to everything — to the birds, the sky, the mountains, the chorus of crickets. Everything that breathes praises the Holy! When we feel this connection, we understand that it’s not just us who breathes — but the whole world is breathing — all of nature breathes with us — and the Holy breathes us all. When we enter into this Holy present moment we understand, deeply, that our breath is sacred and should not be taken for granted. Our breath, though, is not only sacred — it is eternal.

Spiritual teacher and speaker Christian de la Huerta, in a TED Talk about the breath, notes that one percent of the air that we breath contains the element argon, which is an inert element, which means it doesn’t change. When we breath in that argon, our body doesn’t transform it into carbon dioxide or anything else, it simply comes out the same way it came in.

That means, de la Huerta says, that the argon we breath today “is the same exact argon that was breathed by Jesus, the Buddha and Mary Magdalene. The same argon that was breathed by Gandhi and Dr. King, and King David and Abraham and Muhammad, Joan of Arc and Mother Teresa … and on and on.”

It’s the same argon, he says that was breathed by the woolly mammoth, the pterodactyl and the saber-toothed tiger. This, he says, reminds us that it’s hard to know where my breath ends and yours begins, because there really is only one eternal breath that is breathing us all — giving us all life.

Breathe deeply.

Listen to the full sermon.

Listen to the full celebration.

Here’s your assignment this week:   I invite you to continue to practice some Tonglen — to breathe in the suffering of this world and breathe out compassion. If more of us are concerned with transforming the suffering of the world, the more that suffering will turn to joy. Don’t take your breathing for granted this week, instead use it to transform not just yourself, but the whole world, because that’s guaranteed to make you say:   “Oh, Yeah!”

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