Comment from Ken: Welcome to our walk today we will contemplate crossing a bridge.
Scripture: Psalm 23
1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.
It is eight-thirty on Tuesday, and what a beautiful day. The temperature is forty-six, and it is promised that we will be somewhere around sixty before the day is over. I am so pleased you could join me because it is a great day for a walk.
This past week we had a test for Molly. She has been in classes for becoming a Canine Good Citizen. Last Thursday was the day of the final test and gratefully through Dale’s training her and the way she behaved, she passed the test and is now considered a good citizen. However, last night she escaped across our electric fence and took off up Briar Hill Road. Molly thought it was a game; Dale and I were horrified. Traffic passes by here at too great a speed, and we were so afraid a car would come upon her, and she would not get out of the way. Thankfully after several minutes of chasing her, Dale caught her collar, and we returned home sighing a huge sigh of relief. One of the parts of the good citizen test is to have the dog come when called. She did fine on the test but not out on the “open road”. Our not so good citizen is going to undergo some training this week and will be trained until she comes to us when she is called. Whew!
On our walks, I have spoken often of how happy I am here in New Hampshire. You know I miss many of my friends, but there is a return to some of my childhood that I remember from my dad’s farm. I find it wonderful to wander back dirt roads and to discover new places around the area of Hopkinton. For so many years, I tracked the areas around southeastern Massachusetts; now I am discovering many new places around southern and central New Hampshire. Right here in Hopkinton, I have discovered two covered bridges.
Actually, there are several states that have more covered bridges than New Hampshire – Pennsylvania being one of them. Dale and I have spent an afternoon and evening in Pennsylvania finding covered bridges in the Lancaster area.
One of the covered bridges here in Hopkinton is a covered bridge through which passed the trains of the Boston and Maine Railroad. The bridge was built in 1889 “on granite abutments of an older span.” It passes over the Contoocook River. An engineer named Jonathan Parker Snow probably designed it. The depot near the bridge was built in 1850 – that was before the line was purchased by the Boston and Maine Railroad. The bridge is considered the oldest covered bridge for a railroad in the world. Many of the earlier bridges that were made of wood either collapsed, were replaced by steel bridges or were accidently burned.
I have not learned very much about the other covered bridge that I discovered near the Hopkinton dam.
We all are familiar with present day bridges and those from our childhood. I remember sitting on the middle of the Mystic River Bridge leading into Boston with my dad when I was attending Boston University School of Theology and my dad was practicing dentistry in the Back Bay area of Boston. When you stopped on that bridge jammed with traffic, you could feel the bridge jouncing up and down. That was not a great feeling. Before that bridge was built, my dad would travel home on the northern artery, crossing the Harvard Bridge on Massachusetts Avenue. If you are familiar with that bridge, it is very long and very open to the elements in all seasons. There has always been an argument that the bridge should be called the MIT Bridge for indeed it leads over to the MIT campus. However, tradition has won out, and it is still called the Harvard Bridge for it too leads to the Harvard campus quite a distance away. That bridge was used by many of the students living in Boston and Cambridge. My dad, who would never pick up hitchhikers, would occasionally pick up someone crossing that bridge in the winter or on a windy rainy day. That was until a rather frightening occasion.
It was an ice-driven rainy evening in winter when my dad stopped to pick up two students crossing the bridge. After this incident, he never did again. Two drenched young women students got into his automobile. Now my father would always take a right turn once over the bridge to travel down Memorial Drive so he would always let the students out of the car when he had crossed the bridge. However on this day, the two women told my dad he would not be dropping them off; rather, he would be driving them home. My father was stunned, but my dad immediately informed them that he knew the police officer at the end of the bridge, and he would be pulling over to that policeman to tell him what was happening. He stopped his car, and the two women immediately got out and walked away. My dad had the paymaster of the police department of Boston as a patient so he did indeed know many of the policemen in the Boston area.
It was a terrible thing that those two young women did for my father would never stop again on that long open bridge to pick up a drenched or snow covered student. If you know that bridge, you know how much on a stormy day you would like to be in an automobile not walking in the open. I mention that bridge on our walk for we all cross bridges at different stages of our lives. Some of the bridges we cross are like the Harvard Bridge open to the cruel elements and bitter storms. But there is one bridge we have to cross that is the most difficult bridge of all, and that is the bridge from this life to heaven, to eternity. You and I are on that bridge right now.
In this life, the bridge to heaven is a bridge that often has a surprise, and often is open to a storm – sometimes a violent storm. We walk that bridge as a child learning right from wrong. We walk that bridge sometimes being punished for our foolishness and lack of faith. We walk that bridge with our family, with our parents, our children, our caregivers, our neighbors, or co-workers. At times, the sun is shining, While the walk is beautiful, there are the days the unexpected clouds appear, and we find ourselves lost, unhappy, and wondering about what will happen the next day. We walk that bridge and find that one of those closest to us never disappears from life and enters that final bridge to eternity. Now I need someone to walk that bridge with me. I need my family and my loved ones to walk with me; but on the final unknown part of that bridge, I have to walk it alone and so do you. When that happens, I need someone like my thoughtful father to pick me up and carry me across that last bridge. I have that someone and so do you. He is my best friend, He is my constant companion, He is my way, my truth and my life, He is my Lord, He is our Lord, He is our Jesus Christ. He leads us – “ Yea though…. we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we will fear no evil for Thou art with us. Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort us.”
Think for a moment of the bridges we have crossed in our lives, and then let us confront the bridge to heaven and ask the faithful Jesus to walk it with us.
Prayer: Dear Lord, we are crossing the bridge of life, and we are encountering pleasant days; but there are also stormy days in our past and before us. Please walk with us each day and guide us over the bridge that leads to heaven and those who have crossed that bridge before us – through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Until our next walk, “ May the Lord watch between me and thee while we are absent one from the other. Amen.”