Between Each Breath ©2021 Louise Gallagher Between each breath there is a stillness within the stillness there is the space to breathe deeply into the beauty of all that is present in this moment embodied in all you are when you breathe within the stillness between each breath.
Beaumont the Sheepadoodle and I have a new routine. Instead of taking him outside every morning via the lower deck, I put my longest coat on over my pyjamas, don my boots and hat and gloves to ward off the chill of these winter mornings. I drape his harness over Beaumont’s head and attach the retractable leash and off we go into the darkness that is still morning this first week of January.
We walk out of our cul de sac, turn right onto the street that leads from the top of the hill down to the main road and, at the corner where it meets the main road, we turn right again and walk along the well-litpath leading to the pedestrian bridge over the river.
There is a spot about halfway across where someone has affixed a red plastic wreath. Inside it is a photo. It is of a man smiling. His smile is frozen in time. His body lost to the rushing waters some months ago when he leapt from the bridge and disappeared.
Every morning since I began this new routine just before Christmas Day, I stand below the wreath, close my eyes and take a breath. A deep one.
Beaumont sniffs in the snow that covers the pathway, pulling on the leash as long as I let him. And then he stops and stands watching me. Patiently waiting. As if he knows this is a moment of reverence.
I listen to the river. Its flow is fast and furious in the winter. The ice island keeps growing larger between the two buttresses sunk deep into the water to support the bridgedeck. Between the buttresses, where an ice island has formed in the centre of the river, the flow is blocked, forcing it to either side. It pushes and shoves its way through the narrower waterway, slipping off the ice where it grows outward from the shore towards the centre and from the centre of the river out. Ice locked.
I stand, eyes closed, heart open, breath stirring deep in my belly and listen to the river. I stand and say a silent prayer for this man for whom life became too great a burden.
I stand and say a prayer for all those who will today let go of the burden of their lives and fall into the everlasting.
I stand and say a prayer for all those fighting to cling to life with every breath they take and for those who stand by their bedsides giving aid and comfort. They are standing in for the ones who cannot be there. They carry their pain.
I stand and say a prayer for this world. So hurting. So bruised and battered. Battle weary. For the leafless trees standing sentinel in the dark along the river banks. For the geese honking and flapping their wings somewhere out on the ice island. And for the river and the ice and the mountains and the sands, the oceans and the seas. I stand and say a prayer.
I stand and say a prayer for those who are sick or for whom the separation of these days sits like a heavy cloak upon their shoulders, bending their backs.
I stand and say a prayer for those who are struggling, who are feeling lost and alone. Frightened or confused by these days of solitude.
And then, I bring my prayers back home to my heart.
I stand and say a silent prayer for those close to me and far away, I stand and say a prayer for my mother and my father and brother, his wife, my family members who are gone and my cousin who lost the battle to Covid and all those who will lose the battle today.
I stand in the stillness between each breath and say a prayer.
My mother taught me the power of prayer.
It is teaching me how to be present in the grace of stillness.
I am grateful.