Friday, December 14, 2018

Thoughts on "Breathe"

When I transferred to Minnehaha Academy as a tenth grader and began experiencing school chapels after an up-to-then lifetime of public education, one of the songs frequently performed by the worship team was "Breathe." I didn't care for it from the get-go, because, well I can't quite explain the emotion but it's something like, I thought the lyrics far too simple and obvious ("this is the air I breathe" - "well, yeah, what other air are you gonna be breathing?" I'd ask). But worse, the song came to be sung so often (or perhaps I mean to say, "forced upon us") that it wasn't long until I developed some feeling of animus against it. Hearing the opening notes of "Breathe" could instantly drop me out of worship mode. Here was a song I thought ought be relegated to the annals of Christian music history, a case-study of early contemporary Christian musicianship, but no longer worthy of airtime in "real" worship.

In college, I more or less doubled down on this position.

A few years post-college, I started revisiting my hostility. I'd always maintained that the responsibility for providing a worshipful environment lay solely at the feet of the worship leader / team, but the question was posed to me (by someone, I don't remember who) of what responsibility the worship-goer has toward preparing their own heart in advance of showing up. I continue[d] to mull on this, particularly on the rare Sunday nights that Upper Room would foist good-ol' "Breathe" upon me. Could it be that I bore some personal responsibility for opening my heart wide enough that even "Breathe" could become worshipful again? (or put more Jeremy-bluntly: is it my job to find moments of worship even with poorly made song-selections on the worship planner's part?) It took a while, but I think I've come to the conclusion that, well, yes.

Before reaching that conclusion, though, as a stop-gap, whenever "Breathe" reared its head I would take the opportunity to pray on my own, sitting and disengaging from corporate worship and instead focusing on my own heart and spiritual journey. Ever so slowly, my heart continued/continues to soften toward "Breathe." I still think it was overplayed to the point of ad nauseam years ago, but... now when it encounters me, I'm able to find deep value in some of the words, the earnest desperation that I, too, often feel deep inside:

And I, I'm desperate for you
And I, I'm lost without you

Last week, a coworker with whom I frequently exchange music videos, and who had no idea of my storied past with "Breathe" (until now!) sent me this link, commenting, "Oh my, this is so beautiful..." And I've reached a point where I can agree. This is the most beautiful rendition of "Breathe" I've heard, and I'll commend it to your listening (and prayerful) pleasure: