And God said, “Let the waters under the sky be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.”. . . And God saw that it was good.
“We are almost there! Get ready!”
“Okay, wait. Do we start at the levee or when the water starts?”
“Take some practice deep breaths––you have to fill your lungs when I say ‘go.’”
The trip home to Louisiana had its highlights for my three daughters, but the most exciting event was crossing the Mississippi River at the Interstate 20 bridge that took us from the Magnolia State to the Pelican State.
The tradition began when the children were small. Most of our vacations took us southeast through Mississippi and over the massive river bridge that spans nearly two and a half miles in length. Kathy shared the story she was told in her childhood about holding breaths over bridges. She told them that if we fell in, they would have plenty of air in their lungs and be safe. The children laughed at such fancy, but they still took long inhales and held it over the bridge after first reminding me, “Hurry fast, Daddy. Don’t slow down!”
Somewhere in the past, I started counting down for them: “Get ready! 3 - 2 - 1 - Go!” as I dutifully put my foot down on the accelerator and cruised over that span of highway. Huge exhalations marked the end of the river below, and they laughed with success as we put the muddy waters behind us, safe and sound once more.
Through the years, the children held breaths over all bridges, long past believing their mother’s story of surviving falls. It became a tradition. There were a few bridges that gave them challenges, but none so remarkable as that long I-20 bridge over the Mighty Mississippi.
On a recent trip west to the mountains, I recalled the bridge crossings with the girls as I drove over the Yadkin River that runs beneath I-85. The river is picturesque, flowing serenely on this day, beneath the highway. The spring swell is beginning and the riverbanks are full of ebb and flow, the small islands in its midst submerging in the current.
Water. The element is synonymous with life. Scripture teaches us that God created the waters on the third day, and He deemed it “good.”
Recent spring showers refresh the earth and encourage the green show that comes in the early season. Already, my grandmother’s daffodil bulbs are pushing their strong stems out of the ground, the promise of gold and cream blooms to come.
As pup Lily and I walk along, wild violets catch the eye, bright purple spots amidst the clover. Although the morning remains chilly, the fragrance of spring green is in the air. A hike along the trails of Boone State Park takes us to the Yadkin, and the rushing water is evidence of the previous day’s downpour. I encourage Lily to pause for a rest. I drink from my water bottle, Lily laps at the river’s edge.
I breathe deep as a calmness comes over me, and I am thankful.
My grateful heart praises the Creator, agreeing that the rain, the river, and the cool water I drink are all (very) good. After a long and in many ways trying winter, hearts are ready to burst with hope along with the new life springing forth all around.
In my mind, I hear again the joyful laughter of Mary, Jenny, and Amie as they see the big river approaching. I take another breath, in and out, and I allow the Living Water to rush over my heart. I feel renewed as I recommit myself to the One who calmed the seas and walked amongst the waves.
Homeword is written by Jim Edminson, Charity & Children Editor