This is the air I breathe.

I haven’t blogged in about 9 months, and as I sit here in my Dad’s library, checking fantasy football scores and eating a ham and cheese sandwich, my soul is overflowing with gratitude to God. I just have to get it out and share it!

So, this December 15th will be one and a half years since transplant! Praise God! To echo Mary’s words at the Visitation, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior…” I have come an incredibly long way from not feeling like I have the stamina to walk five blocks to Main Street, or being reliant on machines to keep my 30% lung function from dipping to deadly and life-threatening levels. My adventures this past year include hiking up and sprinting to the top of a 13,161 foot mountain and taking a 6 day road trip to California, stopping at the Grand Canyon and other National Parks along the way. Just typing that feels awesome. I haven’t been this consistently healthy since I was about 13 years old. It almost scares me to consider just how well I have done and continue to do. Do I deserve this? I don’t know. But I do know that God wants me to enjoy every breath of it, and never take it for granted.

This cold and rainy Saturday I had the opportunity to attend a one-day retreat in Dallas at St. Thomas Aquinas Church, and in the adoration segment of the retreat, I heard a song that I’d never heard before. The lyrics go something like this:

“This is the air I breathe
This is the air I breathe
Your holy presence living in me

This is my daily bread
This is my daily bread
Your very word spoken to me

And I, I’m desperate for you
And I, I’m lost without you…”

Before the adoration and music started, we were instructed by one of the priests to meditate on the moment when Jesus calls out to Simon Peter, telling him to “cast out into the deep.” We were told to hold ourselves in an open posture, arms uncrossed and spread out, and allow ourselves to be fully open to God’s call in our own lives to “cast out into the deep.” As I did that, I had a profound experience of God’s love.

When the piano player started playing and singing this song, my ears perked up. It is strikingly simple in its message. For me it was the perfect adoration song, because as you sit there and look lovingly on the almighty God of the universe in the Blessed Sacrament, everything else melts away. You are in His holy presence, and you are hearing Him speak words of love directly to your soul. That is a taste of what heaven is. You realize that this all-knowing, all-powerful God has a burning desire for you to be a saint. There is no time for an off-day or only going half way in your spiritual life. He wants you to pray for others and to be His voice and His hands to others, especially the weak and vulnerable. He doesn’t demand that you be perfect, only that you strive to be. And that is a terrifying and humbling challenge to accept. To “cast out into the deep” means being aware of His presence in yourself and in others at all times. To love with your whole heart, whole mind, and whole soulnothing held back. And it all starts with humbly accepting his grace as a gift, and doing your best to give it back.

One of my many faults is sometimes falling into apathy, a laziness in my spiritual life, and laziness in general. But He demands more. He wants me to breathe in His grace, and exhale His love with an urgency for saving souls. That should be the air that we breathe. Freely given grace and unconditional love. It’s not always going to be a bed of roses — it’s going to hurt. It’s going to demand sacrifice. But it’s why we exist. To know, love, and serve God in expectation of eternal life with Him.

It’s not a coincidence that I had this profound adoration experience. This past Tuesday I started praying the Rosary nightly, as well as a novena to St. Therese. Novenas and rosaries will do amazing things for your soul and your relationship with God, and I highly recommend them. I am reminded as I write this of what St. Therese of Lisieux said of her own vocation to love, “I understood that LOVE COMPRISED ALL VOCATIONS, THAT IT EMBRACED ALL TIMES AND PLACES…IN A WORD, THAT IT WAS ETERNAL! ….O Jesus, my Love…my vocation, at last I have found it…MY VOCATION IS LOVE!”

May we all learn to love as intensely and sincerely as she did, especially in the small things of life, and never forget to give all the glory to God!