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Desire For God

The drink in the desert.

As the deer pants for streams of water, so I long for you, O God.
Psalm 42:1

In the dog days of the sweltering summer when I was ten years old, my family drove across the Mojave Desert to go camping at the Grand Canyon. Our Chevrolet sedan had no air conditioning. The blacktop ahead of us softened in the heat, shimmering surrealistically.

Mom and Dad were up front, Dad driving; my three younger brothers and I were crammed into the backseat. A couple weeks earlier we had coerced a stray German shepherd-like mutt to follow us home. We begged Mom until she let us keep him, and we named him Bruno. Now Bruno was lying next to the back window, panting incessantly, his white fur floating around in the car and sticking to my skin. My fingers were so swollen with the heat that I couldn't remove a souvenir ring I'd bought. My tongue cleaved to the roof of my mouth.

That night at ten-thirty we pulled into Blythe, California, where the thermometer on the bank read ninety degrees. We sighted an A&W Root ...

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