When I heard a whale breathe

A Christian Science perspective.

I heard a whale breathe. It was this incredible sound. My husband and I were in Antarctica. It was 10:30 at night in the deep twilight of an austral summer evening. We were on our balcony as the ship slipped noiselessly through waters as still as glass. Right in front of us a humpback whale surfaced and blew. She glided instead of submerging, and in the profound stillness we could hear her breathe. There was no visible sign. No water spouted, she just breathed.

I thought of the profound stillness of being with God. There might be a sign of divine intervention that attracts our attention to things spiritual, like the water spout of a whale. But this is only to draw our attention to more profound views. If we keep watching, we might actually see God, not as a physical presence but as a divine power. We might hear the breath of God.

Divine Spirit is called in the Bible the breath of God. Divine Spirit is inspiration. It’s guidance. It’s healing and salvation. It’s feeling the presence of God with you. God is more than a whale breathing. But for me, this intimate experience in the stillness of Antarctica hinted at the intimate connection that we can feel with the Divine. When the engines of human thought have stopped churning and the tabloid of human life ceases its mental parade, we can be still. Then we can hear the quiet hope and guidance we need. We can feel the health and holiness we seek. In the stillness of spiritual sense, we can see and feel God’s profound presence and healing power.

Once when my husband and I were in the Amazon at night, our guide’s large battery-powered spotlight failed. The darkness was intense. No light filtered through the canopy of vegetation. We were several miles from camp. We’d just heard a jaguar rumble nearby, and the tapirs we were watching had scattered. Our only light was a small bulb I used for reading and my husband’s flashlight. The three of us started back, hiking by the light of my reading bulb, limiting the flashlight to occasional bursts as the path dipped or swerved unexpectedly. At one point our guide stumbled over protruding tree roots and fell down an incline, wrenching his ankle.

I’d already been praying to see and feel God’s guidance in the dark. Now I turned to the presence of divine Love and knew that the guide could feel the inspiration of divine Spirit to know that he was uninjured and free. After several minutes, he felt he could continue. There was no limping, no pain. We arrived at camp safely, and he reported to his fellow guides that his ankle was fine. And it was fine during the remainder of the trip.

A 19th-century theologian, Mary Baker Eddy, explained: “Remember, thou canst be brought into no condition, be it ever so severe, where Love has not been before thee and where its tender lesson is not awaiting thee. Therefore despair not nor murmur, for that which seeketh to save, to heal, and to deliver, will guide thee, if thou seekest this guidance” (“The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany,” pp. 149-150).

Wherever we are, God is. The signs of God’s presence and goodness are all around us. As we step out of our busy human routine into the stillness of spiritual sense, we can see these spiritual signs. This prepares us to rely on God and receive God’s protecting help and power.

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