Have you ever considered how important this simple act is? Lately, I have been paying gobs of attention.
For the last couple of weeks, we have been trying to raise funds for a precious friend, John, who has been diagnosed with adrenal cancer. We were all caught by surprise because he seemed to be healthy, spending the bulk of his days cycling, running and training for triathlons. He’s been an Ironman contender for the last several years, too. His diagnosis pulled the rug from under his family’s feet. When we received the news, a few friends and I decided to band together to rally the troops. The amount of love in action, translated as pledges was just … astonishing. In 3 days, we were able to raise thousands of dollars in pledges. A long way to go, but it’s a start. It would help fund the first wave of treatments as soon as he conquers pneumonia, draining that awful liquid in his lungs which makes breathing difficult.
“Let EVERYTHING that has breath, praise the Lord,” states Psalm 150:6 (Itals mine.)
What living thing on earth does not breathe? NOTHING. Even the lowliest creature breathes. EVERYTHING breathes, unless it’s made of non-porous plastic.
In the morning, as I awake, I purpose to take deep breaths. Each exhale comes out as a thanksgiving prayer. Inhale. “Thank you, God, I am awake.” Inhale. “Thank you, Father, I am alive.” Inhale. “Thank you, Abba, that You have given me another day to enjoy your blessings.” Inhale. “Thank you, thank you, thank you.” Inhale. “Please help me see the miracles You have in store for me today.” Inhale. “May I bring You glory, in everything I do and say.”
As we grow older, our entire body goes south. With a healthy diet and proper care, as with everything else, it may remain and function properly well as we enter antiquity. Our days are numbered, yes. God gave it that number. There is no denying it. We may bargain. We can fight. We can try to counter it (have you used an anti-aging product lately?). But we can’t control it. However, as Dylan Thomas, so fiercely put it, “Don’t go gently into that good night.”
Around the same time I received the news about John, we had a marathon of Peter Pan movies at home. J.M. Barrie, author of “Peter Pan,” developed and wrote that story inspired by his love of the Llewelyn-Davies boys and their mother, Sylvia. It is a deeply moving homage to the love of his life, translating her into an ethereal being that will live eternal. Of all the characters in the book, I like Captain Hook the most. Hook is petrified of the “Tick-tock.” He hates the ticking. He is jealous of Pan for the youth he possesses and all the possibilities that go with it. While Pan squanders his youth, Hook can only dream of it. Why is he adamant about defeating the forever boy? Jealousy is prime. Maybe he wants a do-over? Maybe desires another lifetime of piracy? Hook was a character written as bent on fighting THE COUNTDOWN – in full pirate costume, no less, wearing the tall, feathered hat and ridiculously heavy implement on his hand. The message he conveys is clear: “If you gotta go, go in style!” Boys all over the world want to be Peter Pan. Some, Wendy. Tinkerbelle costumes would always fly off the shelves in late October, worn with a dash of cuteness and a wish of whimsy.
Captain Hook reminds us NOT to JUST wait for the ticking, sitting placidly listening to the nagging sound in our heads. Not to wait for the countdown. We have to live in the moment, present where we are. Be HERE. Right NOW. We can stand on the bow of our vessel gunning ahead; be an active participant in our life, facing forward. Things remembered propelling us against the wind, preventing us from grow roots by the stern, wishing for the old, resting on crumbly laurels. May we never resign to being anchored to the deepest part of a savage ocean, unmoving, waiting for the highest wave to impale us. See, the thing about always looking at the past is, we will lose sight of our future. Why would we want to cast an anchor when flapping sails can take us into imagined lands where new adventures await?
When I grow up, I want to be as focused as Captain Hook. I can aspire to be a less foolish, less selfish version of Pan. I can a tiny force to be reckoned with like Tink, spreading trails of pixie dust. Maybe it is real, this glowing, magical dot-sized floating particles. It can be real in the footprints we leave each day, impacting our lives and others with matters of eternal significance. While living for the moment, we can dispense trails of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness … all gelled together by a massive dose of self-control. (Galatians 5:22)
Right now, John is our Captain Hook. We, his family and his friends stand alongside him, swords drawn out, battling the ticking, wishing for it to go away indefinitely. We are gunning for you, John. Breathe strong.
Is there a “John” in your life today? As you breathe today, think of that person – feathered hat, metal hook velvet coat and all. Imagine your “Captain Hook” covered in real pixie dust. Inhale. Exhale. Enjoy every single bit of this symbiotic exchange. Inhale. Tick. Exhale. Tock. Breathe. While we still can.