When I went to New Wine this last week, I wasn’t breathing too well.
Breathing is kind of taken for granted, really. You breathe in. You breathe out. You don’t think too much about it. It just happens.
Except when every time you breathe sharp pain snakes down your right hand side. There’s nothing like a touch of pleurisy to make you hyper-aware of the effect of breathing. You try to breathe less; to breathe lighter. To take less air in, because then it might not hurt so much. You definitely avoid yawning. Or laughing. That hurts a lot.
So when I saw my consultant a few days before New Wine and she told me I was still very inflamed with a lot of pleurisy, I wondered how I’d manage it. The inevitable rain and the damp, all the walking from one thing to another, catching up with friends, singing in worship. Still, I shrugged my shoulders (not too dramatically) and off we went, dragging the caravan down to Shepton Mallett with 15,000 or so other hardy souls.
I did much better than I thought. I was a bit wheezy, a bit tight, a bit knackered, but I was infused with that special kind of strength I sometimes experience in these kinds of things, a sense of God’s Spirit pouring through me. On the second night we sang the song which has kind of become my theme tune:
‘It’s your breath in our lungs
So we pour out our praise
we pour out our praise…’
Whenever I sing this I have this great sense of God holding me so tight, underneath all the pain and the fear and the tiredness, the bone-weariness of it all. That it is, after all, God that gives me my breath, breath in my broken, scarred lungs, but still there nonetheless, breathing in, breathing out. One day I’ll sing this song with lungs that work, but while they don’t I’ll still sing it. I’ll still pour out my praise and sing ‘Great are You Lord’ with all the breath I can muster. Because living as a follower of Christ does not always mean that we get to be whole in our bodies. It sometimes means living in a world which is broken, and so we are broken. It means living in the now and the not yet; in a time in between, a time when we know the hope set before us that everyhing will be made new and whole and right, that all tears and mourning and pain and sorrow will be gone, a time when we live in that hope while in the reality of the now. So I’ll sing ‘Great are You Lord’ because of that hope, and in singing that I find it washing over me again, carrying me in the pain. The pain doesn’t leave me, but something more profound happens. Love and mercy and grace come like a deluge, weaving through me, resonating in my deepest being.The pain doesn't leave me, but something more profound happens. Love and mercy and grace come like a deluge... Click To Tweet
But I carry the pain.
And that’s OK. Well, sometimes it’s not, really. Sometimes it sucks. But this song reminds me that I am still here. Still singing. I still have breath in these sickened lungs. I still have good days. Lots of good days, actually. But even if I don’t, I will still sing.
And so I danced through the week – in my soul, at least. I laughed a lot, and it hurt, but hey. I drank a lot of wine, which is never a good idea on high-dose antibiotics, but hey. I met up with friends old and new and it was good. And I worshipped my little socks off (but I only wore them with my wellies, not my sandals.)
And I breathed.
In. And out.