It is amazing how the revelation given us by God in the Book of Genesis, the first book of the Old Testament, says so much in so few words. In fact, though Genesis is 50 chapters long, it is really the first three chapters that are the most important.
In Chapter One, the revealed word of God tells of God as creator first of the entire universe. Science has been exploring the universe and will continue to do so until the end of time. It’s no wonder that scripture says, “The heavens proclaim the glory of God.” (Ps. 19:1) We are so fortunate to live at a time when, with space exploration and unbelievably powerful telescopes floating in space, we can view God’s creation. And we are learning more and more each day.
But much more important than material creation, God is described as the giver of life. It begins with the lowest forms and continues to the very highest … the first human beings. And it is here in the most simple yet astounding imagery that we read this significant statement: “Then God breathed into Adam’s nostrils the breath of life and man became a living being.” (Gen 2:7) Eve, taken from the rib of Adam, comes to life. And both are made in God’s image and likeness. And as with the whole account of creation described in Genesis, we know it is the underlying truths rather than a literal understanding of the details of creation as recorded in Genesis that are important. That is especially true of the image of God breathing life into the nostrils of Adam. It is so powerful and direct that it leaves no doubt God is the origin of all life.
But what is most striking is what happens at the beginning of a human being’s life at the moment of birth. An infant leaves the protective womb of its mother and takes (inhales) its first breath which it must do in order let out a “cry of new life.” That little phrase, “takes a new breath” is significant because it seems a perfect image of God’s own first breath in the account of Adam’s creation. Some might say “big deal” and brush that first moment of life aside. But as it breathes in, the newborn is in a way “taking in the breath of God” described in Genesis as God breathed life into Adam.
You might be curious as to how many breaths a human being takes in and breathes out in one’s lifetime? On average, a person at rest takes about 16 breaths per minute. This means we breathe about 960 breaths an hour, 23,040 breaths a day, 8,409,600 a year. The person who lives to 80 will take about 672,768,000 breaths in a lifetime. Who could count? The body/person will be alive as long as he or she can continue breathing.
But then at the end of life there is a last breath that is exhaled and the person completes his life on earth. In other words, that last breath is the last time a person will say through his breath, “Yahweh”, i.e. God.
Even with all the physiology we can study about the process of breathing on the part of every human, it is astounding to think that each breath in (“Yah”) and each breath out (“weh”) proclaims our heavenly Father’s name.
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+St. Anthony was devoted to prayer to the Lord, read his words at St. Anthony Prayers.
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