Bridge over Troubled Water

New River Gorge Forest

New River Gorge Forest

It drizzled all night. Clouds hugged the ground as morning’s first light awakened me. I’d grabbed a motel in Beckley, West Virginia while in route from Indiana to Virginia’s eastern shore. A full day of driving lay ahead, but a brochure from downstairs’ lobby wooed me, calling me to go see the nearby New River Bridge and the reputably beautiful New River Gorge with its raging whitewater. I’d always wanted to visit the area. Somehow I knew it held something special for me.

Once outside, I glanced at the thermometer dangling from my camera backpack. It read 53°. It’s July! How can it be this cold? For a moment my Floridian mind balked at going out so early. Backtracking a bit on I 64, I headed north on US 19 toward Lansing and the Canyon Rim Visitor Center. The bridge took me by surprise. Suddenly, I found myself crossing it while I nervously looked from side to side for some glimpse of the gorge. Too far down for me to see—I breathed a sign of relief. Arriving before 8:00 I found the National Park Service administered site closed. Walking around on the grounds I took a few shots of the lovely plantings in front of the center.

Then, off to the side I noticed a walkway. Alone, I descended the stairs wondering if I’d have the energy to climb back up.

Walkway to the Bridge

Walkway to the Bridge

It wasn’t long before a hazy image of steel penetrated the mist.

Through the Mist

Through the Mist

Step after step I descended until I reached the overlook. Stunned by the immensity of the bridge, I just stood there.

New River Bridge

New River Bridge

Simon and Garfunkel’s classic played through my mind:

When you’re weary, feeling small
When tears are in your eyes,
I will dry them all
I’m on your side
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

I stared into the gorge below. The water looked deceptively calm. Years ago I called myself “the bridge over troubled water”, all the while regretting the role I’d assumed. How very many times I’d laid me down. Family, friends; co-workers. Anger, deep wounds; broken relationships. Listen, counsel; mediate. It hurts to be a bridge. I wanted to help, needed to help, but somehow felt trod on—used. I’ll take your part—your pain …

New River

New River

When you’re down and out
When you’re on the street
When evening falls so hard
I will comfort you
I’ll take your part
When darkness comes
And pain is all around

Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down

Locals say that it used to take 45 minutes to cross the gorge. With the new bridge, erected in 1977, that changed to 45 seconds. The highest vehicular bridge in the Americas, and second highest in the world, it spans 1,700 feet of void. What does it take to cross the emptiness in the human heart? If you listen, life teaches you—a listening ear, empathy, compassion, and wisdom; sacrifice …

Sail on silver girl
Sail on by
Your time has come to shine
All your dreams are on their way
See how they shine
When you need a friend
I’m sailing right behind

Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind

There in the fog I heard the quiet voice of Truth. This is your destiny. Don’t fight it; embrace it. Walking back up the stairs the beauty of the forest enveloped me. No more struggling, just the beautiful peace of acceptance. Friend. I turned the name over in my mind. Friend—bridge over troubled water—yes, this is my destiny.

Forest Peace

Forest Peace

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4 thoughts on “Bridge over Troubled Water

  1. Isn’t it wonderful that Jesus is our “bridge over troubled water?” He laid Himself down and did the work that only He was qualified to do….FOR us! He’s our rest….our comfort….our Savior….our bridge to the Father and everlasting life! Thanks for the images of such a profound gift that we’ve been unreservedly given!

  2. You captured the New River Gorge with such eloquence. I lived nearby for 10 years, and I must say, your bridge shot is stunning.
    One thing that the WV mountains have plenty of is the morning mist 🙂 I love it.

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