Yesterday morning on CNN I saw a video clip of News Anchor Chris Cuomo sharing an x-ray image of his lungs, to help viewers understand a bit more about his experience of Covid19. To me, his lungs looked like folded wings.
We celebrate the heart. We celebrate the brain. But, unless we’re singers, we usually do not celebrate the lungs, even though it’s through our lungs that we partake of everything in life.
With every breath, air molecules enter, pass into our blood through our lungs’ astonishing structures, and do magic of the deepest kind on our behalf. When those molecules’ work is done and they’ve transformed into something we no longer need, they leave us, with every exhalation. Consider the way our lungs welcome the air—how carefully they form and guard the threshold where what’s outside us enters and becomes us.
It is said that the lungs are where grief lives. Perhaps that’s because our lungs are strong enough to hold grief until we are able to release it, like everything else we can release by letting our spirits and our bodies exhale.
It is time now to acknowledge the lungs of the world. The lungs of every air-breathing creature. The lungs of humans, elephants, mice, Komodo dragons, hawks, orcas, otters, dolphins, wolves, garter snakes, bison, macaws, tigers, and macaques—the lungs of every kind of predator and prey.
It is also time to acknowledge the plant world, the partners that make breath possible. Photosynthesis is an unsung miracle.
Notice the clearer skies across the planet. The cleaner air. The way our lungs’ distress is reminding us of how precious clean air is.
If you pray, please pray for the lungs of the world, the lungs of people struggling to breathe in overcrowded hospitals, the lungs of people struggling to survive at home, the lungs of people grieving.
Remember that we are creatures of air and earth, of sky and water, of mineral and flesh. Pray that our lungs and Earth’s lungs will clear together. For we are winged animals who wear our wings inside, folded around the heart. As lungs, our wings turn air into vitality. Each breath lifts us not into the sky, but into life, and we are airborne. How foolish to believe that isn’t flying.