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RPC Eco-Letter 04: Breath, Air, and Wind

This Eco-Letter I’m offering a few collected items around breath, air, and wind. I like that breath is both a concrete, biological experience and a metaphor for something that sustains us but cannot be grasped.

Peace, Jesse

1. God Breathes Life Into the Human

“Then the Lord God formed the Adam from the soil of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the Adam became a living being.” (Genesis 2:7)

2. Breath as Receiving and Giving

“Christ Himself… ‘breathes’ in… me divinely in giving me His Spirit… The mystery of the Spirit is the mystery of selfless love. We receive Him in the ‘inspiration’ of secret love, and we give Him to others in the outgoing of our own charity. Our love in Christ is then a life both of receiving and of giving. We receive from God in the Spirit, and in the same Spirit we return our love to God through our brothers.” Thomas Merton quoted in Sallie McFague’s A New Climate for Christology: Kenosis, Climate Change, and Befriending Nature

3. Breath Connects Us to the World

“Every breath we inhale contains our planet’s nitrogen, oxygen, water vapor and trace elements. When we breathe with mindfulness, we can experience our interbeing with the Earth’s delicate atmosphere, with all the plants, and even with the sun, whose light makes possible the miracle of photosynthesis. With every breath we can experience communion.” From a statement on climate change by Thich Nhat Hanh

4. Air Pollution Is Reason Enough for a Quick End to Burning Fossil Fuels

New research shows that air pollution is much worse than we knew. It causes about 8.7 million global deaths each year. It’s linked to “strokes, brain cancer, miscarriage and mental health problems.” It basically affects all parts of our body. Black, Latinx, and Asian communities have higher levels of air pollution. Even without considering climate change, moving away from burning fossil fuels would have massive, immediate benefits. The reduced medical expenses alone would pay for a transition to renewables.

5. The Spirit (Breath, Wind) Empowers Us to Love Our Neighbors

“When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.” (Acts 2:1-2)


* In a depressing essay, Bill McKibben describes the Biden Administration’s shift away from climate action. * Grab some headphones and listen to When the Earth Started to Sing by David Haskell from Emergence Magazine. Also don’t miss his earlier audio essay, The Voices of Birds and the Language of Belonging. * The latest newsletter from the Mennonite Creation Care Network includes a number of poems.

Evanston Earth Month Events

Join a number of local Earth Month events including: *Landscaping with native plants *Evanston Repair Cafe *A bike workshop *A 10-second climate film festival *Neighborhood Clean Up *How to Talk to Children about Climate Change

Above photo by Jesse Miller

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