There’s very little left in the English word “spirit.” In the secular world, it’s been reduced to the sense of having energy or a capacity to put up a fight. To borrow from a whole different language family, something like chutzpah. Beyond that, it might mean some kind of ghost or a feeling carried by a room or person or group of people: “there is a real spirit of cooperation amongst these people!”
All of that’s just fine. But if we dig a little more into our language we’ll discover some of the ancient meaning of the word. We’ll discover little hints and relics of things we’ve mostly forgotten. Hospitals use respirators and all of us have respiratory systems. Maybe even more shocking, there’s something to do with it when we’re feeling inspired. All these little hints and relics remind us that there is something of breath in spirit.
If you’re an ancient language nerd you’ll already know this. If you ever chose to sit through biblical Greek or Hebrew you’ll know that the old Greek and Hebrew words for spirit carried the meaning of wind and breath as well.
It’s a little sad that we’ve lost some of those meanings because it has made spirit so much more abstract than it needs to be. If we can hold those meanings together there’s something in being spirited that simply requires a deep breath in and a long breath out. Maybe even more important there is something in the simple act of breathing that becomes sacred and holy as we become “in spirited.”
It might even mean that the practice of spirituality simply begins with breathing. That our practice of faith begins and is inspired by a simple and holy act that each of us does without even thinking about it.
Breathe deeply today. Be Spirited.