To the shepherd herding his flock
through the gorge below, it must appear as if I walk
on the sky. I feel that too: so little between me
and The Fall. But this is how faith works its craft.
One foot set in front of the other, while the wind
rattles the cage of the living and the rocks down there
cheer every wobble, your threads keep
this braided business almost intact saying: Don’t worry.
I’ve been here a long time. You’ll make it across.
~Matthew Olzmann “Letter to a Bridge Made of Rope”
I have never walked a rope bridge though I’ve seen one from a distance in Northern Ireland. It swayed far above a rocky gorge, hanging almost miraculously in the air as walkers trekked blithely across.
Not for me, I said.
I feel disoriented and dizzy when the surface beneath my feet sways and moves with the wind and due to my own movement. I make my own wobbling worse with my fear. The rocks below seem menacing; I don’t trust my own ability to navigate over and through them.
Oh, me of little faith. So little between me and The Fall.
Simply crossing a narrow wooden bridge built over a fallen large old-growth tree trunk takes all my courage. I try to focus on my feet taking each step, testing the solid wood beneath me rather than looking down at the rushing water and sharp rocks below.
In the course of life, I have to take steps that feel uncertain and unsupported. I freeze in place, afraid to move forward, reluctant to leave the security of where I am to do what it takes to get safely to the other side.
Yet I need to trust what holds firm for others will hold firm for me.
Christ is the bridge for those like me who fear, who don’t trust their own feet, who can’t stop seeing the taunting and daunting rocks below. He has braided Himself around me to keep me safe, no matter what and no matter where. He’s been here a long time and will always be.
I can step out in that confidence.
This year’s Lenten theme:
So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
2 Corinthians 4: 18
Loving shepherd of Thy sheep,
Keep Thy lamb, in safety keep;
Nothing can Thy power withstand,
None can pluck me from Thy hand.
I will praise Thee everyday,
Gladly Thy all will obey;
Like Thy ones blessed above,
Happy in Thy presence love.
Loving shepherd, ever near,
Teach Thy lamb Thy voice to hear;
Suffer not my steps to stray,
From the straight and narrow way.
Where Thou leadest I would go,
Walking in Thy steps below;
Till before my Father’s throne,
I shall know as I am known.