It has been said by scholars that the name of God is spoken with every breath we take; that the individual consonant sounds of Yahweh (YHWH), are representational of our breathing. Yod-Hei-Vav-Hei. They’re essentially unspeakable except through intentional aspirations.
This idea is a powerful one to me as a mama. The sound of my own breathing is generally inaudible, as the noise level in my home on most days drowns it out. The sounds of children playing, talking, driving remote-control cars across the hardwood floor; the dishwasher running, the oven timer going off, the phone ringing, even the faint hum of the air conditioner creates so much noise in my world that the sound of complete and total silence is overwhelmingly rare. But when I finally do find myself surrounded by absolute quiet, I hear it: YHWH. YHWH. YHWH. And I’m brought immediately back into fellowship with the Father.
Other times the sound of my breathing is audible to everyone within thirty feet of me. It’s that deep, heavy sigh that comes with being a generally-impatient person. The dinner gets burned, my freshly-folded pile of laundry gets knocked onto the floor, the younger child hits the older one and causes a cacophony of tears and screaming. The resulting reaction from this too-easily-frustrated mama is usually a loud, exaggerated sigh. YYYYHHHHWWWWHHHH. Ahhh, but there it is again! And I’m brought (more slowly this time…but surely), back into fellowship with the Father.
It’s as it should be, right? Consciously or unconsciously, in our awareness and in our ignorance, through moments of complete calmness and moments of intense anguish, from our first breath to our very last, we were made to worship the very One who gave us breath.
Earlier this month I was on vacation with my family and some other dear friends. We had a sweet little condo on a small island off the coast of North Carolina which, in the coolness of October, was almost completely deserted. Our temporary home overlooked a marsh that lead out to the Atlantic Ocean, and there was a dock that we could walk out onto that connected to a boardwalk. The introvert in me loves to wake up early in the morning before everyone else comes to life, and enjoy a few minutes of solitude. On the second morning of our vacation, I quietly crawled out of bed, grabbed my jacket and my camera, and headed out to the dock before the sun came up.
As I walked outside in those pre-dawn moments of the morning, I was struck by how quiet it was. Seeing as how I don’t spend much time around wet marshland, the unusual noises I did hear were starkly clear and overtly dramatic and faintly small all at the same time. Ripples of water near the shoreline, the call of a crane in the distance, the rustle of leaves under the trees from waking squirrels. The fact that it was still dark made the sounds of those tiny noises increasingly keen.
I stood at the edge of the dock and looked down at my camera to adjust my settings. Suddenly, I heard a loud PWOOOOOSHHHHH!!! I jumped back, quite startled, and looked up just in time to see a sleek, black dorsal fin glide gracefully back into the water. I ran to the edge of the dock and watched. A few seconds later he came again with a loud, magnificent PWOOOOOSHHHHH!!! Up and down, up and down he went, the sound of his breathing ringing out through the still, quiet air long after my ability to see him had vanished.
There on the dock of a marshy creek bed that morning, in the cold, still, pre-dawn moments, when the sky was as red as flaming embers from the impending morning sunrise, I had the most unique pleasure of watching a dolphin swim past, just feet from where I stood, calling out the name of his Creator…YHWH…YHWH…YHWH….with every breath he took. And I was immediately, and perhaps more powerfully than ever, brought back into fellowship with the Father.
“Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!” Psalm 150:6