For as long as I can remember, I have taken air for granted. While it can be dirty at times, usually it is clear and reasonably clean. Outside I do not worry about CO2 headaches, difficulty breathing, or lung issues. Air takes care of all the negatives I can think of, at least until recently.
Last week I lived without the air I was used to. Each day it got progressively worse with parts of one day and most of another in the hazardous range. On the worst day, I did not leave the apartment. The closest I came to going outside was to open the door to retrieve the newspaper. In those brief seconds it felt as if I was fighting to breathe. I was immediately grasping for breath. My throat, scratching as it was, got worse. My lungs hurt.
I cannot imagine living in this for very long. To put it simply, it was not something I want to repeat. The experience, brief as it was, was enough to be a defining moment.
I like fresh air. Until now I had not thought of it as a free gift. I thought it was my right. Air was something that automatically came with living. As I wake to start a new morning, the haze has gotten better. While not clear, it is possible to go outside without choking. Even as I take a deep breath, I can feel the appreciation of the better air slipping quietly away. I wonder how many free gifts I have that I have lost sight of. David reminds me “the spacious, free life is from God, it’s also protected and safe.” (Psalm 37.39) It, along with fresh clean air, can be within our reach. It can be, however it is also a gift.
I do not want to take any gift in my life for granted. Relationships, restoration, and even the air that we breathe are gifts. I have, at times, squandered my gifts in the past. Today I will say thank-you to each by in the way I live.