Like a bridge over troubled water…
Have you ever experienced any “troubled water” in your life? If you are older than six, you probably have.
I was once playing in a golf tournament at a course I didn’t know well. (Side note: The tournament was not at the course pictured above.) I hit my drive down the fairway and over a hill and was pleased with the shot. Following the ball, I too went over the hill and saw, to my dismay, a creek running across the fairway at the bottom. I did not see my ball.
Being a person of brilliant deductive reasoning, I knew where to look. With growing anger (“This isn’t fair!”) I descended the slope to the place where I could see into the creek.
The creek was only about four feet wide, and it looked like the depth was only half of that. But it was at the lowest point on that hole, with the ground rising up on the other side to the green. The only thing lower than the creek was my attitude.
When I arrived at the creek I could see that there was a small ledge a step down from the hill, perhaps two feet wide and three feet long, like a little plateau. On that ledge rested, dry as could be, my golf ball.
My frown turned into a smile as I surveyed the situation and concluded that I could stand on that ledge and play my next shot. The golf gods had heard my rantings, felt sorry for me, and given me a break. There would be no penalty stroke, and I still had a good chance to make par–or even birdie, with a little more luck.
I selected a club and stepped gingerly down onto the ledge with my left foot, leaving my right foot on the slope behind me. As I slowly took the club back in a practice swing, I realized that my weight was shifting toward my left.
Before I could get my weight back to my right foot and the safety of solid ground, the ledge broke. My ball went into the water, and so did I.
You’re all wet
I don’t remember anyone laughing at that, although I’m sure the aforementioned golf gods did. I was not among those who found the incident humorous, but I can understand that someone who was still dry might have.
As I recall, I did not finish that hole or the match. It was a team event, and in the end my score didn’t count. Did our team win or lose? I don’t remember. Was the water cold? I’m not sure. All I know without question is that I was embarrassed.
Probably my teammates and my coach were empathetic at some point. No one really brought it up again until we played that same course the next year, and by then I was joining in the fun. “Don’t worry, guys, I brought extra underwear this time.”
I’ve been in heavy rainstorms, been swimming in at least three oceans, SCUBA diving in many different parts of one, and was certified for SCUBA in an old quarry in Wisconsin in the winter. I have encountered cold water, dark water, and everything from sharks to moray eels to a stonefish — the most venomous fish in the ocean.
But when someone says “troubled water” to me, I think of that creek.
Troubled water in a desert?
I live in a desert now. Actually I live in a city in a desert, but it’s still a desert. The nearest lake is many miles away, and the nearest ocean is farther. So there isn’t a lot of troubled water around, but there is still plenty of trouble.
Paul Simon wrote the iconic song Bridge Over Troubled Water decades ago, apparently surprising himself in the process. Yet even today we get the message, and occasionally find ourselves in need of that bridge.
Such was the case for me a few days ago, and the trouble was all inside. The funny thing about trouble is that sometimes other people can see it and sometimes they can’t. Sometimes we try to hide it so we can look like we have it all together, and sometimes we just don’t want to share our struggles.
So there I was, out for a walk with my wife. I was exercising my body, but my mind was doing much more work than my legs. I suggested we head back to the car, which was parked in a shopping center parking lot, and take advantage of the restrooms at a “high-end” supermarket in the shopping center.
And there was the bridge
We made our way to the supermarket, my wife knew the way to the restrooms, and I was in and out pretty quickly. While I waited for my wife to emerge, I examined the signs hanging all over the hallway that went from the store to the back, where there were offices as well as restrooms.
These were not for sale, and their sizes and shapes were different, as were the messages they bore. The first one that jumped out at me was a needlepoint, and it was about faith.
Faith is an eternal and internal light that we nurture in our hearts. Faith gives meaning to life. There is a higher purpose for each of us and our faith leads us towards it. Faith takes us beyond what our eyes can see. It is deeply felt. It is a conviction. It defies explanation and logic. It is firm and immovable. Faith is peace. Faith guides us towards goodness.
Since a lot of what was on my mind had to do with Do Good U, those words cut right to the heart. Faith had started this Do Good journey, and here was a reminder that “Faith guides us towards goodness.”
The troubled waters began to calm down.
But wait, there’s more
I moved down the hallway a little farther, still thinking of faith and goodness, when another wall hanging caught my eye. This one was a painting, and it also spoke directly to my troubled waters.
Faith and love, hanging in a hallway a few feet apart, were silently but clearly offering me encouragement. All that was missing was hope, I thought.
I stood there for a moment and was thankful for the artists who had created those works, for the manager of the store who allowed them to be hung on the wall, and for the people who had selected them and mounted them.
I was also thankful to God, who, I believe, orchestrated the timing, the artwork, and the opportunity. In fact you may have wondered where my wife was while all of that was going on.
As it turns out there was a minor plumbing issue in the ladies room that caused her to be delayed. That gave me time to wander and ponder, and be encouraged and thankful.
Walking out of the hallway into the main part of the store, I noticed a little area just around the corner with some other artwork and signs for sale. At least I supposed that was what it was, because I didn’t go look. I didn’t need to, because from where I stood I could see a framed piece of paper with a single word printed on it.
In bold black letters it said simply: HOPE