Then Queen Esther, seized with deadly anxiety, fled to the LORD.” Another translation says that Queen Esther, “seized with mortal anguish, had recourse to the LORD.”

Breathing is an automatic function that most of the time escapes my notice. But if I recall an experience of being under water too long, perhaps pummeled by waves, and my desperate need for air, I know, in a moment, just how crucial this automatic function is.

I have the same experience when I recall moments of “mortal anguish,” or “deadly anxiety,” times when not just my body but also my spirit felt as if it couldn’t breathe. And the relief I felt because I had recourse to God. It could be that without these moments, I would not know just how desperately I need God’s life-giving and life-sustaining spirit.

May I give thanks, this day and this Lent, for this source of my life. May my Lenten disciplines and fasting help me to know and steward this life with ever greater love. May all those who experience mortal anguish today have recourse to you.

— Ryen Dwyer, S.J., a Chicago-Detroit province Jesuit scholastic, is currently studying philosophy at Loyola University Chicago.