Touching God Above Our Bridge
Many years ago, I accompanied my then-roommate on the hour and a half trip to pick up her sister from college. About half-way there, she turned to me and said, “Take a wild guess where I’d like to be right now.” I could name about a half-dozen places I’d rather be at 11 o’clock at night. But then Margaret smiled and said, “The bridge.” And the memories flowed like waters out of a floodgate.
“Our bridge” in the Radford countryside was a place we liked to visit during the day to look down through the shallow water, but it was especially treasured after dark to look up through the bottomless sky. There the heavens stretched limitless above, and before us they tapered off between the trees in a twisted ribbon above the stream. In that hilly sanctuary, the nighttime sky was not crowded with the lights and glare of civilization, but was allowed to burn with its own illumination. Standing on our bridge, we would lean backwards over the railings, and with heads thrown back, we would take in this glory until I feared my heart would burst and spill itself out into the abyss.
We witnessed many skies above that bridge. But for me, there is only One Sky.
Of all the night skies I’ve beheld, before or since, this is the one that smolders in my memory. It seemed as though a map of the constellations had come alive above our bridge, the stars were so many. That night, I could have believed that the sky was made of light and bespeckled with darkness, and not the other way around. I felt that I might be able to reach up into the Heavens and touch God, and I knew that He had already laid His hand upon me. I wanted to melt into that night and become a part of it, to be a part of that greatness, that purity, that peace; then would I truly be worthy of God’s love and worthy of being His creation. Though I was with my friends, that night was one of true aloneness with my Maker.
It is in times like those, when I am face-to-face with God’s magnificence, that I am most aware of the wonder of Him. But why does it take a sky like that to remind me that He has made a sky like that? It’s as if I have allowed that glare from the city, which in reflecting off of the sky hides it, to also mask God from me. And only in these extraordinary moments do I seem to wake up and realize, “Oh, yes! God is here, and He is awesome to behold!”
This is my daily struggle: to recognize and acknowledge God in my everyday surroundings, despite the glare. When I lived in Radford, there were many places I could go where I felt a part of His creation, where I felt deeply connected with Him. Since that time, I have yet to find a place that provides me with the same serenity and calm, the same peace I felt in those hills. I must remind myself to look upon the world I inhabit now and know that God is here. I must rely on the sanctuary within, and that continual dialogue between He and I. Maybe then I will be able to see God as clearly in my own back yard as I was able to see Him that night among the stars above our bridge.
Thanks for sharing. . . and for the reminders about the importance of place to help guide our hearts to what truly matters and for the need to remember to notice the wonders around us even if we cannot be in those special places.
Thanks, Patti! I actually wrote the basis for that piece when I lived in a bigger city and I was finding it so hard to acknowledge God in the “man-made”. I was re-working it a bit to reflect my life today, since I live in the country, when I realized that I still don’t have a physical place that feels the same as what I had in Radford. I am surrounded by trees, I live on the edge of a field, and yet… So, what is it? Is it just me? Maybe. Either way, I can’t rely on – or allow – my surroundings to dictate what my relationship with God will be. That’s just using place as an excuse not to nurture that relationship.
michelle that was lovely!
Thank you Vicki, that was nice of you to say. You live out there in the mountains, so you know how wonderful it can be!