We sit in a parking lot near the lumber yard while the car shakes with my sobs.

“Are you going to be okay?” he asks. “Do you want to go home?”

Sometimes I wish I wasn’t so sensitive. I wish I could separate God pleasing from people pleasing.  I wish I didn’t feel another’s pain, or feel like I feel it.

I wish I didn’t feel so tired of this situation.

I wish I didn’t feel. so. helpless.

We decide to go on, and I dream of face throbbing to the sun’s beat, of body bobbing on waves, of water washing away tense.

But the closer we get, the further the sun gets. It buries itself in gray. And our one summer day at Lake Michigan seems destined for disappointment.

We swing our mats and chairs over shoulders, tote bags of books and Subway sandwiches, and a cooler of water. We hike through woods and over dune sand only to be met with a sea of platinum, few people on the beach, and none in the water.

I slip off my sandals and dare to dance a toe in ice.

That’s enough.

We eat lunch, and then D trudges the half mile or so back to the car for warmer clothes.

A seagull joins me. It eyes the sandwich crumbs under the chair but doesn’t dare come closer. I rustle in the box, pull out a small cheese cracker and lay it in the sand.

Food! Four more seagulls come from nowhere, and I laugh as the first flattens its body, fluffs its feathers, squawks and chases. It claims this territory, but it’s not coming closer.

I stretch out on the straw mat and doze under towel cover.

Under cloud cover, above and within.

D returns, and I sit up, cross-legged. I slip on my blue “Lake Michigan Unsalted” sweatshirt, pull the hood over head, zip up to chin. I wrap towels around my legs and nibble from a bag of mini Oreos while I watch the waves roll, topple, and fold in on themselves before they break into white foam and spill on shore.

I see the cracker’s gone.

“What causes the waves to break?” I ask.

He doesn’t know, but later I read they move faster in the deep, like ripples. But when they reach the shallows, they slow down. They get higher as bottom hits bottom, get ahead of themselves, lose their shape, and then collapse into white foam and churning sand.

There’s beauty in their brokenness.

I’m caught up in their rhythm.

But I think I’d rather be a deep wave.

I scoop up fine black and beige granules and let them sift between my fingers, then lightly pass my palm back and forth. God promised Abraham descendants like numberless grains. Did Jesus write the sins of the woman’s accusers in sand so they couldn’t lift a stone? Has He brushed mine smooth and sent them out to sea?

“There won’t be a sunset tonight,” I sigh.

“Oh, there’ll be a sunset,” he answers. “We just won’t see it.

I ponder this. How even when we can’t see, God’s got His holy finger on the pulse of this planet. The sun rises and sets, the moon slivers and circles, the seasons swing. All in perfect rhythm.

The very atmosphere, the air we breathe, quivers with His music. I close my eyes and listen, inhale fresh—and slightly fishy.

The sun peeks out briefly, and the water sparkles for a few moments.

I feel His finger on this fragile flutter heart. “Peace,” He whispers.

And the beat slows down.

And the beat goes on.

Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. ~Mark 4:39 (NKJV)


and the beat goes on

by Sandra Heska King time to read: 3 min