I ain’t heavy

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Dina Mananquil-Delfino

For we walk by faith, not by sight
rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.
— 2 Corinthians 5:7

During one of the school holidays my daughter asked me to buy her a puzzle as boredom-buster. There was only so many parties to go to, so many movies to attend, so many phone chats to make, so much money to spend. So I bought her a 1000- piece puzzle of a red wooden bridge. The bridge appears worn out as the paint is faded. There is evidence of many feet that have crossed this bridge. The bridge is suspended in the middle of a swampy garden. The beauty of the trees, bushes and flowers complete the quiet and calming aura of the scene.

Every day I watched my daughter put the puzzle together, at times spending a few hours on it. I marveled at her gift of looking at it from a bigger perspective and find the missing piece. I rejoiced with her when the pieces clicked and sealed themselves together. I have attempted to assist a few times, but in an hour I could only contribute three pieces into the puzzle. At times I forced a piece to click, but she would see my error and would correct me by saying that the pieces must fit exactly and that there should be no gaps or overlaps. She finished this puzzle in two weeks in time for the next school term, fulfilled and rewarded by this wonderfully framed masterpiece that now hangs in our kitchen.

As I look at this puzzle every day at meal time, I am reminded of the many bridges the Lord has given me to reach some destination. Have I ever been grateful for every lifeline He sends or do I now take things for granted assuming that a bridge will magically appear to assist me. When I am faced with huge decisions, I see myself standing at one side of the bridge and thinking for a time if I want to cross and use the bridge at all. It seems like a defining moment. Shall I hold on to the railings (they look quite frail at times) or do I walk unsupported? Can I handle the height and the suspended weight and still marvel at the picturesque scenery below or be critical of the murky waters? Shall I walk or must I run so I can reach the other side quicker? Can I pause in the middle of the bridge and look back at how much I have travelled and surveyed the distance I need to complete the journey? Will I have the courage to continue on?

I notice that the mouth of the bridge where I am standing is quite wide, but it becomes narrower. It reminds me of the words of Jesus: “Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way that leads to life and there are few who find it.” When I have decided to journey with the Lord after a personal encounter with Him, much like St Paul’s conversion story when I was struck by a blinding light and thrown off my mighty horse onto the grounds of helplessness I was not really sure if I can make it till the end. There are the days when I can confidently take on the bridge, feeling victorious and triumphant as I make it through the trial or tribulation. But there are many times that the thought of getting into the bridge would generate so much anxiety and panic and turning back would be the better alternative. But then I had to live with the regret that somehow, not choosing to walk into the bridge with all the uncertainties, brings more misery to my soul as it becomes a missed opportunity for growth. From where I stand the gate seems to narrow but if I observe closely and as I continue the walk it really is not. It opens up to the wide vista, as I step out into relief and freedom that I reached my destination.

Jesus is the bridge to the Father. God’s love was poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour. He is the Power and the Wisdom of God. St Paul writes in Romans: “therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”

There are times that I cross bridges on my own, unsupported, proud to make it on my strength. But I noticed when I do, all I see is the murky waters below. Also panic sets in quickly. When I ask Jesus to be my bridge to the Father, the blessings flow and the crossing is not so daunting, no matter how difficult the task is. When I stand at a bridge, I pause and allow the presence of Jesus to walk me through it- no matter how wobbly the panels or frail the railings are. I can stand on the bridge with the sure promise that Jesus will carry my weight and to Him I really am not that heavy.

Prayer

O Holy Triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, let Your glory fall on me. Lord, every day there are bridges I need to cross. Some are small and insignificant that I can walk into them with confidence. Others are overwhelmingly huge in scale, scary to cross. I stand before them in fear and angst that I will fall and falter. But I take comfort in your promise that You are the bridge that helps me cross and that Your steady hand will hold me as the strong and mighty railing, delivering me into the other end, your appointed destination. At times I need to cross alone, at times the love of others keeps me company and the trip is not so daunting. I ask that you accompany me always and never let go of me. AMEN.

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Dina Mananquil-Delfino
Dina was a former editor-in-chief of The Philippine Times and has been its columnist for over 20 years. She has written two books, "Colours of Life" and "Under His Wings". Dina has been in the helping field for 40 years in the various roles she had fulfilled- teacher, employee in different organisations, volunteer, pastoral care worker. She is a member of Australian Counsellors of Australia (ACA) and Counsellors Victoria (CV). She brings into her practice her unique style of helping and understanding, having been exposed to various roles involving different cultures. She can relate to the challenges change brings. In her published book Colours of Life, she shares the angst and joy of being a migrant. As a Pastoral Care worker, she has helped many individuals and families empower themselves and encourage them to achieve order in their otherwise chaotic life. She also facilitates/conducts regular workshops/teachings in personal development. Dina’s strength is in pastoral care, assisting people journey through the difficult moments of serious illness, loss and bereavement, helping newly-arrived migrants, and emotionally embracing the elderly and senior members of the community, moving them to work towards a new vision of settlement, hope and comfort. DINA IS A QUALIFIED COUNSELOR AND PASTORAL CARE WORKER. She can be contacted on 0430 214 917. Email evamarie09@bigpond.com for comments or feedback on this story).

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