Our previous events this summer have been based on the elemental themes of Fire, Earth and Water, so on Sunday we drew the series to a close with Air. Gathering together in the open space of Hove Park, we combined it with our annual meditative event on the Fingermaze. The grass labyrinth never fails to provide the ideal environment for peaceful and solitary contemplation whilst walking its winding contours.
As air is so essential and all encompassing, the evening offered a unique opportunity to explore the often over-looked mystery that it is, particularly as an example of God’s presence and life. In the Bible, the Hebrew word Ruah is used and translates as Spirit which, in its primary sense, means breath, air, wind. The phrase Spirit of God is reasonably rendered Breath of God or Wind of God. The word spirit has taken on a corporeal tone like the word ghost. Likely, if the Greek word Pneuma had been rendered breath or wind in English, then the Holy Spirit would not have developed so strongly in English as a Person part of the Trinitarian Godhead.
Each person entered the maze individually, listening to an MP3 player loaded with relaxing music with a subtle breath rising and falling behind it. The journey was a slow and thoughtful one, with various biblical references to spirit and breath placed on sticks in the ground at regular intervals throughout the path.
Upon reaching each station on the journey, visitors were encouraged to breath on a mirror fixed to each of the sticks above the text. The condensation from every exhalation temporarily revealed a picture on each of the mirrors, acting as a reminder of the biblical idea of divine breath imparted to humankind:
‘And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.’ Gen 2:7
Whether believing in the idea of divine breath or not, the tangible second-by-second interaction with the air around us was central to this experience, as people were left feeling like the air that we inhale was somehow more real than before. This breath-awareness was also emphasized by an audio track that followed on from the music – a reflection on how every breath expresses a deeper existence without us even noticing most of the time.The walk through the labyrinth ultimately led to the centre, where a large green helium-filled balloon hovered, tethered only to a small basket filled with pots of bubble mixture. The word Ruah was written on each of these, to serve as a reminder for those who had connected with the experience. As each individual took one out of the basket, the weight holding the balloon down was lessened until, with a prayer, it was released high into the sky.
The surrounding air was soon filled with Ruah-inspired ‘miracle bubbles’, as we shared food and drink together on a beautiful warm evening.