What if every time we breathed, we were saying God’s name?
Richard Rohr just exploded my brains with this possibility. (It was quite messy. Sorry about how my brains splattered the book case, by the way.) It begins with the word that we often translate as Yahwew. In ancient Hebrew, vowels aren’t written down; the reader is left inferring whichever ones go in. So as it is written, God’s name ends up being something like ‘YHWW’. Apparently, in Hebrew, these are the only consonants that don’t employ the tongue or allow the lips to close; making the sounds is an imitation of breath itself.
This is a small, thing. Perhaps even a stretch, to go from the sounds to the idea that it is a breath. But… BUT! If it is right, there are so many incredible ramifications of this idea…
Rohr begins with the idea that the first thing we do, when we leave our mothers’ wombs, is to say God’s name. And the last thing we do, before we leave this world, is to say God’s name. And the thing we do, millions of times, forever, over and over in our lives: we say God’s name.
He is way smarter than me. He has probably spoken about the following things, which also seem to flow out of the idea that God’s name is something like breath itself. But the following observations are my own:
The thing we all know to do in times of panic, is to breathe: we say God’s name. The foundation of nearly all the great contemplative prayer, meditation, and mindfullness traditions is the breathe: God’s name…
The bible is filled with God breathing into things. In chapter 2 of Genesis, God brings life to Adam by breathing into him. How awesome and crazy to think that God would say his name, and that this would bring life to our original ancestor. One of the things that makes me reel, about this possibility, is the way it paints a picture of God’s self existence; the way it points to the idea that God creates out of nothing; it is only his own very name which gives birth to man.
Going backwards a bit, into chapter 1 of Genesis, there is another event. It was one of those wierd times when a bunch of translations of the bible all went to have a steel caged wrestling match to determine who’s right. Because God is hovering over the waters, and sometimes it is God breathing, and other times it is God floating, and sometimes it is the wind.
And this leads to the possibility of the wind!
Wind is a sort-of breathe, of course. Often a symbol of the holy spirit. And Jesus is of course a word, a primal word from God. What word could he be? Could he be anything other than God’s own name? Here, maybe, is a snap shot of the trinity, one and three, distinct and indistinguishable: God’s self, God’s wind, and God’s breathe/name… Am I grasping yet? Maybe, but I have this whole idea about the verse that says all scripture is God-breathed, or (divinely inspired) Because this leaves us with the paradox that the bible itself is in fact just a thousand-page long statement of God’s name, over and over and over…
Sometimes I feel dizzy and awestruck and just amazed to be in the middle of this crazy creation.