“While I know myself as a creation of God, I am also obligated to realize that everyone else and everything else are also God’s creation”- Maya Angelou
It recently occurred to me that perhaps my first blog post should have explained the significance of loving one’s Ruah and what the purpose of my blog will be.
Immediately after my first post was written, I had many people ask, “What is Ruah?”
In short, Ruah is a Hebrew word that has multiple meanings in English.
The first translation of Ruah is Breath.
So why should we love our breath?
I would counter, why shouldn’t we love our breath? Our breath is essentially our life and who we are. Without our breath, we wouldn’t have life. We wouldn’t have our identity. Our breath is so important.
And loving our breath is even more important. When we don’t love our breath, we are not loving ourselves. We do not love the life that we have. I have mentioned in previous posts the importance of practicing self-care and self-love and how I have struggled with this concept for so long. Loving ourselves, the identity that we have the share, is not a bad thing. It’s actually extremely healthy. When we love ourselves and the instrument that gives us life (our breath), the quality of our lives improves. We can appreciate the gifts that we have and learn from the mistakes that we make. We recognize that we are not perfect and that is okay. We recognize that we have love and can share that love with other people.
So how can we start loving ourselves? Start by recognizing your breath.
When was the last time that you noticed your breath? Throughout the day, especially on a busy day, we tend to not even recognize that we are breathing. Of course, we know that we are breathing because if we didn’t, we would be dead. But how many times do we actually stop and think about each and single breath we take?
Recently, I’ve begun to practice Zen meditation at Brite Divinity School. In Zen, your concentration is focused on your breath. You breathe in. You breathe out. For 20 minutes, your breath is everything. The first few times I meditated, I noticed how my thoughts, my anxieties, and my concerns relaxed and flowed out of my mind.
There is a reason why whenever we are angry or upset or anxious that people suggest we “take a deep breath”. There is truth behind this seemingly simple advice. When we breathe, we move our focus away from the negatives that invade our mind and return our focus on loving the life that has been given to us.
Now, there is also a deeper, spiritual level to our Ruah as well.
The second meaning for Ruah is literally Spirit. There are two ways to interpret this word spirit: Either our human spirit or the holy spirit aka God.
In my personal understanding of Ruah, I would say that the spiritual dimension of Ruah is a combination of our physical breath, our human spirit, and God.
So…would this mean that when we breathe, are we breathing God? Is God present every time we take a physical breath? Is God in relationship with our human spirit by taking the form of our breath?
There are many people that I have talked to that are very comfortable with a God that is separate from our lives. A God that resides in heaven and looks down on us on earth. And whenever we need our God, in times of trouble or pain or suffering, all we must do is pray and hope God will answer those prayers.
Many other people would expand this by saying that God is present in our lives, such as in the middle of our church services every Sunday. However, if God can be present with us during times of worship, then why can’t God be present the rest of the time in our lives?
I find this concept of God to be troubling. It almost seems as if God is being limited to some sort of Genie or Santa figure that only has the purpose of serving our needs and that is it.
So I want you to imagine this: What would it look like if God was always present in everything we do in our lives?
A simple trip to the grocery store? God is there.
Spending time with someone you deeply care about? God is there.
Driving several hours and getting frustrated with all the other drivers around you? God is there.
Everywhere we go and everything we do, God is present.
Now, how would your life change when you become aware that God is not just present when we want God to be present, but present all the time?
This is why loving our Ruah is so important!
When we love our Ruah, we love the human spirit, the very breath that God gave us. We begin taking care of ourselves.
When we love our Ruah, we love God. We love the God that is present throughout our entire life and are in a constant relationship with God.
And when we love our Ruah, we love the breaths and the presences of God in other people.
As Maya Angelou once said, while we are creations of God, everyone and everything else is also God’s creation. We all share the same breath. We all contain the spirit of God.
Our neighbors are breathing God. Our enemies are breathing God. All the strangers in the world are breathing God.
Perhaps this is why Jesus said, “Whatever you do to your neighbor, you do to me”.
So if you are hateful to someone who has treated you wrongly, are you also hating God?
If you judge someone for being homeless instead of taking the time to know that person, are you at the same time judging God?
If a refugee from another country begs to seek refuge in your home and you refuse, are you also rejecting God?
There is this Hindu phrase that reminds me that God is present in all of us. It is called “Namaste”. And in my opinion, the best definition to this greeting is, “The Divine in me loves and recognizes the Divine in you”.
It is my hope that if everyone in the world saw God in all people; the world would begin to heal and be at peace.
So I invite you to begin the process of loving our Ruah.
Love the very life that we breathe. Love the God that resides in you. And Love the God that resides in everyone else.
Much Love, Peace, and Namaste,