I Can't Breathe

Mark Johnson | May 27, 2020

I was moved today in my Lectio reading group by a reflection mentioned by Rev. Mark Sloss and written by Steve Garnaas-Holmes on his blog, Unfolding Light. 

It reads:

When you send forth your spirit,
all beings are created;
and you renew the face of the ground.
        His name was George Floyd.

I will pour out my spirit on all flesh.
         He was God's beloved, breathing God's Spirit.

In the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body. 
        He was black. The Body of Christ.

When you take away their breath,
they die and return to their dust. 
        He was slowly choked to death
         by a white cop. His life didn't matter.


We do not know how to pray as we ought,
but that very Spirit intercedes
with sighs too deep for words.
         “Please, I can't breathe...”

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and put a new and right spirit within me.

In looking toward Pentecost, we think about the gift of the Spirit (Ruach, air, wind, breath), all sent by God.  And now, all these stories, too frequent and reoccurring, of our brothers, sisters, and siblings (many brown and black) choking, crying out and dying.  Plus, this deadly virus causing respiratory failures and our State Governor, hung in mocked effigy, I ask, "Can we hear what the world is saying and what God in the Spirit may be trying to tell us? Are we listening?" As Desmond Tutu wrote: "If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality." Agreed, except the elephant has its foot not on the tail, but upon the neck, and from underfoot and knee we hear the cry, "I can't breathe, I can't breathe."

3 months

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