Have you ever looked at a covered bridge and wondered why they covered it? I mean – REALLY – the purpose of a bridge is to cross over a body of water. What’s needed is a solid surface UNDER the feet, not over the head.
Turns out (according to numerous contributors to the WEB) the roof isn’t there to protect us people. It’s there to protect the bridge itself. Wise builders of wooden bridges, way back when, realized the traveling surface would last longer if protected from the elements. Considering a number of 19th century bridges in the snowy Northeast are still in place, that idea seems pretty sensible.
But, here’s the thing. (Watch out. My brain is going off in its own direction.) As I was looking at a picture of a covered bridge recently, it occurred to me that if a stream, or some other body of water, can be likened to life, (…see my most recent blog.) the bridge over the stream is, for the majority of us, the most likely means of passage to the other side.
We’re all busy conducting our lives on this side. Eventually, though, we’ll all end up over there. It seems to me, one of our principle jobs is to figure out the best way to get there. We played by the stream’s edge as a child and, later, swam in its cool water (just because we could). There comes a point in life when we realize it’s time to get serious. We could try to swim over if the water’s deep enough. If it’s shallow, we might consider taking off our shoes to wade across on the slippery, rocky bottom, trying hard not to fall.
But, there’s a road nearby and, as we stand at the stream’s grassy edge, we can well imagine there’s a bridge just around the bend. In our mind’s eye we envision an easy walk across the bridge with the sun smiling down on us and a light breeze fanning tiny beads of sweat on our brow. One person might stroll aimlessly along the road toward that bridge. Another studiously measure the distance, focus on the path and make straight for the bridge. One might “go it” alone, or pick up a friend to join in the venture.
But “Beware,” it is said, “of things that go bump in the night.” Beware of the gentle breeze that suddenly becomes violent… of rain that can dampen one’s spirits… of falling hail that can do harm. Even if there is no wind or rain or hail, one might seek shelter when things get too hot. A covered bridge does so much more than protect its own floor from the elements. It provides shelter for the troubled traveler, comforting us during those inevitable unplanned events in our lives.
If the stream is like life — maybe the roof on the covered bridge is like God!