The Torrent

canadianbridge2I’ve written with increasing frequency about unhappy subjects of late.  Like a flood of epic proportion, they have overtaken me.  Death, diseases, disasters, drugs–for some reason the alliteration piles up and I cannot escape the dreaded D words

I want to quit dwelling on the D words.

I have, just tonight, realized I have been standing at the water’s edge, watching the level rise.  Mesmerized by the current and its power, I have awaited it’s inevitable surge above flood level. 

Away, I’m bound away,
Across the wide Missouri. 

It’s no coincidence the words to the old folk tune Shenandoah are coming from the speakers on my desk right now.  No, I didn’t select the song; it just happened to come up in the playlist which the streaming music service delivers while I sit at my computer.

When I say no coincidence, I mean I needed a nudge in the right direction.  I can take a hint; I’ll head that way momentarily.

You see, I’ve said many times our existence here is a journey, a life-long expedition to see what is around the next bend and over the next hill.  We are strangers in a strange land, headed for a different home.  Having said that, I also realize I have stopped here beside the rushing waters and taken shelter a little ways above the river’s edge in a place of safety. 

I’ve stopped here for too long.

Too long.  Too long, staring at the intimidating water.  Too long, wondering when the awful flood will recede.  Too long, waiting for rescue.

The road goes on up the mountain on the other side of the cataract of white water.  I can see it from here if I have the strength of will to tear my eyes away from the terrifying flood and lift them up to the hills.

The painting you see above hangs in my den.  It is one of my favorites, although not necessarily from the brush of the most skillful of artists.  Still, the picture tells the story amazingly well.

The violent torrent roars and tumbles down the mountain rift with horrible menace.  Nothing in its path could withstand the overwhelming power it wields.  And yet, mere feet above the white water, on a rickety and cobbled-together wooden bridge, seemingly unconcerned and unfazed, a man stands resting.

The Lovely Lady and I jokingly refer to the piece of art as our Simon & Garfunkel painting, a none-too-clever reference to the duo’s song, Bridge Over Troubled Water.  A century old, the painting depicts nineteenth-century life in the Canadian Yukon Territory.  The best word I can think of to describe living in that rugged wilderness?  Hard.

Hard, and yet (dare I say it?) triumphant.  Here, in the midst of the most unfriendly environment man could imagine, a bridge spans the cataract of water.  In safety, where there was no safety, anyone can traverse the dangerous valley. 

Funny.  Someone had to build that bridge.  Over the troubled water. 

Over it.  While the river rushed and roared below them.

And still, I stand beside the flood and consider.  It’s likely, you know, that if a bridge can be built over this river, there will be another one needing to be built up ahead, and another one, and another.  Rivers don’t run in a straight line, either.  I might even have to build another bridge over this very same cascade, further on where it runs even wilder and more furiously.

Funny.  I hear the voice of the red-headed lady who raised me as I stand and think.  We’ll cross that river when we get to it.  She is right.  She always was.

Today, the river right ahead needs a bridge over it.

It’s time to follow the road ahead, and it leads up the hill across this particular river.

Time to get building.  It’s a good thing I know a Carpenter who is only too happy to teach the craft to any who ask.

After all, He built the greatest bridge of all time.  Out of wood and nails.

Away, I’m bound away…





I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come?  My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.
(Psalm 121: 1,2 ~ ESV)


When you’re weary, feeling small,
When tears are in your eyes, I’ll dry them all.
I’m on your side, oh, when times get rough
And friends just can’t be found,
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down.
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down.
(Bridge Over Troubled Water ~ Paul Simon ~ American singer/songwriter)




© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2015. All Rights Reserved.

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