Between Each Breath

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.

Love. Comfort and Joy.

I sit in the still darkness of early morning. The silence holds me tenderly in its velvety weightlessness.

Hold onto nothing, it seems to whisper. Allow everything in.

I breathe out and let everything go. Everything rushes in.

I breathe in and hold onto nothing. Everything rushes out.

You are the ocean, the velvety silence whispers. You are the sky. The moon and stardust. You are the everything of nothing but Love. There is no need to run or hide or jump up and down for attention. There is no need to yearn or hammer your fists against the universe and sink down into a puddle of weeping sorrow. No need to search for answers or meaning. There is only this nothingness of everything you are when you hold onto nothing and let everything in.

I breathe. In. Again.

Deep. Deep into my belly.

I feel. Deep. Deep in my belly the everything of nothing I hold onto.

I breathe. Out. Again.

Deep. Deep from my belly.

I feel. Deep into the space around me, deep into the darkness of this still silent morning the nothingness of everything I let go of.

And I know without knowing. I feel without feeling. Deep. Deep within my being. Deep in the presence of this moment, that this is the nothing and the everything of all I am. All I can be. All I need. All I want and desire. All of everything I let go of. All of everything I let in.

This is the everything of nothing but what remains when I hold onto nothing.

Breathing deep, I sat in the still darkness of morning.

And that’s where Love found me.

_________________

“My Morning Read”

This morning, as part of my commitment to read a poem every morning, I read Mark Nepo’s, Where is God

And this is what appeared.