A Holy, Impatient Pranayama1
“The LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” —Genesis 2:7
As smoke billows over a world engulfed in the flames of our own making—division, derision, and destruction—we gasp for the escaping breath of our living soul and cry amid the desolation and ashes, “How can beauty, shalom, come from even this?”
Does your heart break for our mistreated world and its marginalized peoples?
Does your soul stir from the political powers of darkness and demagoguery?
Does your spirit sink, disillusioned by the falsehood of religious institutions?
Indeed, a narrative of hopelessness can be ensnaring, even alluring, when the fires of wickedness force from within us an exhalation of holy impatience. Though we long for the hope of glory to be fully revealed, we remain so easily asphyxiated by the overwhelming smog of unrelenting sin.
Do you plead for alleviation from your present troubles?
Do you yearn for a sociopolitical reformation and restoration of justice for all?
Do you pound on our nation’s ecclesial doors and demand repentance from pharisaic religiosity?
And in all of this pain, where is the God of our forebears—the One who breathed life into us and whose good news promised our deliverance and liberation?
Breathe—and fear not, for there is good news: You exist in a long line of religious devotees who have been asking these very questions for thousands of years.
Breathe—and take heart: For you are not alone in your holy, impatient desire to upheave any government or system of power that invokes pain, evil, and disparity in our world.
Breathe—and behold! For I bring you tidings of great joy from the Scriptures:
In the Epistles, we find the hope of salvation in the God who sustains life, a ventilator that totally revitalizes our polluted spiritual bronchus (Rom. 8:24-25).
In the Wisdom Literature, we find a hope for the nations in the God who demands justice from the crumbling kingdoms he swiftly disarms and defeats (Ps. 46:6-10).
In the Lukan Gospel, we find living hope in the Christ who subjects himself to hatred and rejection from the misguided religious establishment so that we never have to bear that yoke alone (Luke 2:34-35).
Even now, as you find your holy, impatient breath this Advent season, may you be moved to extinguish the fires of wickedness around and within you. May you be gifted with respite in the promise that as swiftly as kingdoms will rise, so too will they fall (breathe in, breathe out, repeat: kingdoms will rise; kingdoms will fall). May you be energized to cultivate a Christ-honoring spiritual life that rejects corruption and disingenuity.
And, finally, may the spirit of holy impatience draw you to the everlasting grace and peace of the preeminent Word: a subversive infant-King whose very existence conspires not only for your liberation but for that of all creation.
Prayer: Almighty One, may each holy, impatient breath we take re-energize our movements of resistance against the rulers, authorities, and forces of darkness that directly oppose Christ’s just, equal, and ever-expanding kingdom.
Chris Curia is a director of youth ministries and a Young Life church partner in the greater Grand Rapids, Mich., area. He has written for several publications, including Sojourners and Relevant, and frequently covers the intersections of art, faith, and culture. Follow his work on his personal forum, Through The Darkness.
1 From the Sanskrit words prana (“life force”) and yama (“to restrain or draw out”), usually referring to the ancient yogic practice of breath control.