coming Up for Air

Diggity trots beside me on the street which runs along the bayou. The waters are content this morning and reflect houses and docks on the opposite bank. The mirrored effect of twin roofs and windows, trees, and rows of posts marching out into the water where they meet themselves, enlarges my breath and I smile. Even the light breeze smells fresh with water and cane without a hint of decay as in heated months. Then to top off the morning, a swirl of water caresses the surface and breaks into a circle like a laugh. The ring begins at the eddy then spreads and adds halos after halo, perfectly spaced circles— math in action. 

What creature broke the barrier of water and air? Shading my eyes from the sun, I scan to see if it will surface again. There! Swift, yet unhurried, a crescent arches out of the water then elegantly slips back into the liquid world. A smaller dolphin mirrors his mother, circling into the air then down into the drink. The mammals’ lungs welcome oxygen which circulates into every part of their bodies and becomes part of them. Eager to glimpse them again, I search where they might next catch their breaths. Circles in circles, God blessed my morning as surely as if He laid His hand on my head.

I marvel that, though the dolphins live and move and have their being in the water, they must come up to gulp the air. The thought of living underwater, but needing to breathe above it, gives me the shivers. Waves pushed me under enough times for me to know the fear of drowning, but dolphins mastered living in two worlds. Spending the bulk of their lives underwater with just sips into the world above, I wonder what they think of their glimpses of this other world. 

In my musings, the Holy Spirit brings to mind scripture we’ve been studying in our Tuesday evening group. 

“ If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on the earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” Colossians 3:1

The Bible repeats the idea that we live in one world and yet our true home is in another. I live here but my focus should zero-in on a loftier place. That’s the idea, but how do I practically do that? Pulling taxes together requires my full attention, as does listening to a friend. My head spins thinking about how to marry the dichotomy of navigating one world, and at the same time, focusing on the other. How does this idea work in reality?

The dolphins! They show me how to live in two worlds. I live and move in the earthly world, but my being is in the heavenly realm. While I fold clothes and mentally calculate when to leave for an errand to return in time for a phone call, the Spirit of God prompts me to shoot up for air.

“Holy Spirit, move in my conversation on the phone this afternoon. What should I ask? What should I say? Please duct tape my mouth from speaking anything critical or prideful.”

Then I dive back into my chores. This rising to touch base with God and receding back into worldly waters mirrors the dolphins. Breathing the breath of God circulates Him in me, keeps me spiritually alive and clears my head. If I delay a breach into heaven, my decisions fog, and I become listless and sink.

Jesus also showed me how to live in one world while coexisting in another. He often retreated to isolated places to pray and also prayed in the midst of people. He circled round to connect with His Father and stay aligned with the Father’s will.

This touching base with my real kingdom is tough at times, especially when I feel unwell in body, mind or soul. Though it seems a simple act to breathe a prayer, I struggle to do it. To approach God I must not feel that I have to comb my hair and prepare a speech. He knows what living in our world is like. Sometimes rising for air sounds like this,

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

If Jesus could cry out to God with such rawness, why shouldn’t I?

I can live in two worlds at once. God showed me, not one, but two kinds of lives to mirror. Inhaling God’s presence sustains me, and done regularly, becomes second nature. It comes as naturally as breathing.

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