Breath of God


No more New Year resolutions for me!

The failure rate is too high.

The only resolution I kept, was giving up smoking in 1976, and that was more about health than the dare.

These days, I’m aware that our measurements of time are our way of managing incarnation on earth. We place a grid over eternity.

If we lived on a much bigger planet that had four days of light, four days of darkness, and different seasons, we would change our time grid to suit.

What is still interesting about our tradition of making promises at the beginning of our year, is our motive for doing it.

Why do we feel this urge to better ourselves?

The growth imperative is all around us. We live in an expanding universe. All living things strive to grow, then die and decay to become new life.

There is no evidence to suggest that plants and animals question who they are. For them, growth seems all about nutrition, reproduction and the protection of territory.

We too have those instincts but there is something else, a restlessness that lies in a desire for inner growth.

Animals don’t need religion.

So what makes us so different?

I call this ‘The Breath of God”, going back to the story of Adam, and Gd breathing life into clay.

One of the Desert Fathers had another description. He said, “Wr are part animal and part angel.”

I can relate to that too, and  I look back at all the times I saw angel self and animal self as separate.

Sometimes, they were at war.

How many of my New Year resolutions were attempts to shut my animal self in a cupboard?

It began in childhood: I will not steal biscuits. I will not swear. I will be kind to my sisters. I will not tell  lies.

Now I l know that the two belong together.

The breath of God – or angel self – wants to be human.

Through incarnation, it can grow.

The animal self needs the angel self to bring illumination to its darkness.

They do come together but union it takes time filled with life experience.

The words we put to this process of spiritual growth, are ours, and the metaphors vary. We cannot say what God is but we can say what God is like.

For me, a beautiful symbol of the angel/animal connection is the Light of the Wold born in an animal shelter.

If spiritual growth is our imperative, what is wrong with the New Year resolution?

It is only once a year. And it is usually guilt-based.

Growth is continuous and begins with self-acceptance. We are who we are meant to be, perhaps not so much human beings, as human becomings.

Our faith means that every day our angel and animal are gently embracing and working together.

God’s breath is in my clay, and the clay of everyone I meet.

Let us live in gratitude.

  • Joy Cowley is a wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and retreat facilitator.
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