Scriptural Reflection

“Then God formed the [hu]man from the dust of the ground. God breathed the breath of life into the [hu]man’s nostrils, and the [hu]man became a living person.” (Genesis 2:7)

Personal Reflection

Like many Arkansans I suffered from chronic asthma. I was born with it and my life was full of asthma attacks as a child. So, I spent very little time outdoors. Unable to fully interact with other children, when I was given opportunities to play, my family always reminded me to carry my “inhaler” to avoid attacks. For me, asthma became a physical disability that severely limited my interactions with my family at home and my friends in the community. Now, I realize that every breath is dependent upon my access to clean air and I remember the places where I lived in Little Rock, Arkansas. These communities were near industrial sites, airports or waste management facilities, the kinds of places that provide the most affordable housing for low-income people.

As a teenager, I decided to accept this unjust reality no longer. Instead, I developed the courage to confront my dis-ease through proper nutrition and consistent exercise. I joined the track team at my middle school and became a long-distance runner. In the beginning, my inhaler was always a part of my life and I took it to every practice and track event. After three years, my lung capacity increased and I was no longer dependent on my inhaler during competitions. With proper nutrition and exercise, I overcame the odds of being a male child whose living near environmental toxins would destine him to cope with lifetime asthma.

Now, having lived 22 years without medication, I have recovered from the solitude, isolation and limited interactions of my childhood. In moments when health disparities take my breath away, I find breath to respond to health inequalities, realizing that I must be concerned about the welfare of my community as well as my own health. A life with asthma demands that we develop the courage to live from breath to breath. We can respond to each breath-taking experience by not accepting our physical limitations and by recovering a healthy and responsible way of removing social injustices from our neighborhoods.

Invitation to Reflect

  1. What are the limitations you have placed on your life because of your asthma that can be overcome by proper nutrition and exercise?
  2. When in your life do you see the need to respond with courage to live healthily and responsibly with asthma
  3. Do you remember a moment in your life when a social injustice took your breath away? How did you respond?

For More Information

 “The Burden of Asthma in Arkansas”