The Gate of Heaven is Everywhere! Episode 15

Centering retreat circle

We were breathing the same air.

Another way I experienced the gate of heaven opening this week was in the discovery of our human interconnectedness through breathing the same air.

As the silent retreat group came out of the days of silence, the woman who sat next to me through the three hours of sitting meditation each day said she heard my breath and it helped her to remember to keep breathing in the Spirit-breath herself. And as we opened the day of cultivating compassion with a silent meditation at Angola prison, I heard Mr. S. next to me breathing in and out even as I did.

Noticing this simple reality of breathing in the same air might seem silly. The cynic might say, “What’s the big deal? We all breathe the same air. So what?” But something profound is happening in the sharing of air, of breath, whether we notice this or not. If we open the heart-mind just a bit we can have a spiritual awakening through this discovery.

We are being given the same gift of life in every moment by the same Giver of Life, through the air around us. My poorest neighbor and my richest neighbor are both receiving the same breath I am given. The woman who sat next to me at the silent retreat, who happened to be in her twenty-eighth year of recovery from alcoholism, was receiving that breath. The man on my left at Angola who killed someone twenty years ago, and the man on my right who raped someone thirty-four years ago, were both taking in the same breath as me.

We were all breathing the same air created by The One Who Loves Us So, and none of us are worthy of that breath of life. None of us earned it. That’s just it. Something Marvelous spent eons forming and shaping a tiny green and blue ball in space where beings like us could look up into a galaxy full of stars together, breathing the same air as free gift.

This marvel is not an accident, as some might believe. The mystery is too incredible, the wonder too amazing, that complete strangers are perpetually sharing the same gift of life we call breath because we are so very loved.

That is my story. This week we were breathing the same air, and I was amazed.

Take a few deep breaths right now. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Make noise as you exhale. Hear yourself experiencing the gift of life through breath. Keep returning your awareness of the gift through the day today. And see if you can remember Who is offering you the free, unearned gift.

Maybe a hint of gratitude will arise in you too.


About soulcare4u

I am the author of Monks in the World: Seeking God in a Frantic World, published by Wipf & Stock and available through; and of a blog on, "A Contemplative Path." I serve as the founding spiritual director of The School for Contemplative Living (, adjunct faculty of Loyola University, and as a pastoral counselor and spiritual director in private practice.
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