Thursday, April 2, 2015

Lent Photo of the Day: Breath

Your breath is something that you usually can’t see. Of course, in the cold, dry winter weather, you can sometimes see it when you go outside, or if you breathe onto a cold windowpane. But most of the time your breath is totally invisible. But even though you can’t see it, you know it’s doing its job.

Your breath has one main job, obviously: to keep you alive. Your breath pulls in life-giving oxygen when you inhale and gets rids of toxic carbon dioxide when you exhale. If you hold your breath for long enough, you pass out. If someone smothers you so you can’t breathe at all, you die. Bringing in oxygen is the single most crucial function of your breath.

But your breath also has many other jobs. Speaking, for example, cannot be done without your breath. Your larynx creates the sounds of speech, but it cannot do it without your breath passing through it and causing vibrations. Keeping your throat clear is another. Without breath, you cannot cough to clear something blocking your airway. Another convenient, if somewhat less important, function is warmth. How often have you used your breath to warm your hands, or trapped your breath under the bedcovers to warm your whole body? And on the opposite end of the spectrum, how often have you used your breath to cool off a hot bit of food or to soothe a burned finger?

Just because your breath can’t be seen doesn’t mean that it isn’t important, or that it doesn’t matter. You can’t see kindness, but kindness matters. You can’t see freedom, but freedom is important. You can’t see justice, or love, or God, but what you can see, much like with breath, is their effect. Don’t be fooled: sometimes the most important things in life are the things that you can’t even see. Like breath.


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