A while back a friend and I were lamenting about how hard it is when you pray to concentrate on clearing your mind of all the thoughts that are itching to be silently said and, instead, listening to the voice of God. And then, even when you’ve figured out how to turn off your internal voice, it’s difficult to maintain that concentration with the often disturbing ambient noise around you. My friend said he sometimes puts his hands over his ears to muffle the sounds and it helps him concentrate on the sound of his breathing.
“Whoa, wait a minute”, I thought, “The sound of his breathing?” There were bells going off here! At some point in the past year during my crash course in Catholicism and the formation of my faith, I had heard or read something that had to do with the voice of God or the name of God, and some connection with breathing or the wind blowing….or something along those lines. I racked my brain to remember what it was. I searched on-line to no avail and had about convinced myself I had dreamed it all when, with a smidgen of help from our good Deacon, I had a breakthrough. What I had been trying to think of was the Hebrew word “Ruah” which is translated into English as “The Breath (or Whisper) of God”. But, in Hebrew “The Breath of God” is synonymous with “The Holy Spirit”. In other words, the Jews considered the Holy Spirit to be the Breath of God.
Then, at Easter, I was thumbing through the Gospel of John and I stumbled upon John 20:22, “And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit”.
I am an engineer and, as such, I tend to be a linear thinker. It wasn’t hard for me to connect the dots in this thought process. Considering the fact that, as Catholics, we believe the Holy Trinity lives within us, the connection I was trying to make, and which I quite triumphantly suggested to my friend, was that while he is listening and concentrating on his own breathing as a focusing technique so as to better hear what the Holy Spirit is saying to him, maybe, just maybe, they are one and the same thing in that ultimate moment when true reverence is reached, and, perhaps, through that calmness, a translation occurs.
Think about it. I, for one, am going to give it a try.