I am wound too tight by schedules and piles these days while quiet lingers always out of grasp, and so many bodies in tight spaces can overwhelm a heart longing for reverberation. His voice, it seems, comes to me like pond ripples, such a subtle vibration that I’m want to miss it for all the squeaky wheels.

Some people hear Him loud and clear, in clarity and certainty, but my amateur ear is deaf to His loudness as of yet, and the booming voice seems to become another fog horn in the harbor, another barking seal, another bustle of the marketplace.

It’s the straining in the silence when He speaks to me most, tuning my ear to a sound outside my untrained range, like hearing a dog whistle. A lot of children can hear dog whistles when the rest of us are oblivious. A lot of children see and hear God, too, in the everyday, in the subtle things we breeze past in the ever-swifter movement of pursuit, whether they recognize Him in the mystery or just dance inside the carefree beauty of the universal uncertainty that the rest of us fight off with aggression. Children are good at this, but for me it takes work and I confuse work and works so very much I’m not sure I know the difference at all some days, but there is a difference, you know.

I go about it all another day—shake my fists and consent to another obligation, another distraction for His glory, but a busy schedule for God can never replace a quiet moment with God and I’m forever tangling the two into knots, like James in the Scriptures but messier—faith and works and love and silence and service and doubt and righteousness and resilience braided into a bristling rope, a noose built by silent oblivion with which I strangle God right out of my own paper heart, frayed at the edges and beating slow and cold and ever more independent. But a heart without God is a heart without oxygen and it is always in gasping for air that I meet Him face to face.

So I pray, desperate and wordless, for just one gasp at a time, only enough to sustain me for the moment. I want wild eyes and a thirsty tongue, gaping lungs and clawing hands that never cease knowing how badly I need Him, how essential to my survival those pond ripples really are, how very much I miss when I don’t let them move and nourish and define me. There is not enough room for radical love when the life noose gets tight, but inside the moment-by-moment God breath, there is nothing but room—an infinite supply of grace, love, peace, and life in enough abundance to bulge and burst and cover us all in His riches. Much like manna, though, it is purely momentary and in this temporal life, a heart must return to it day by day and breath by breath. We stumble, in this, and with eyes at their clearest I see it starkly behind the façade, the world a wasteland of spoiled and hoarded abundance.

Lord, reign on us. Rain on us. Bring your grace and truth—day by day, breath by breath, ripple by ripple—near enough to sustain with just enough drought to keep us ever thirsty for You. Amen.

breath by breath

by Cara Sexton time to read: 3 min