Monday, June 12, 2006

On the bridge

I found you on the bridge in the midst of a city, in a stream of crowds,
but statue-still, looking out over the water

I had only stopped to take a photo of the view
but suddenly we were together
apart from the crowd;
parallel lives looking out on parallel views
yet a world apart.

I was awkward,
the humanity of compassion made me want to know you,
to comfort you or reassure,
yet we were strangers and you were vulnerable,
alone even in the crowds.

I owed you the dignity of private grief
yet I also owed the blessing of a kind and timely word.

The words we swapped were very few.
You reassured me that you would not jump.
I reassured you that life was bigger than it felt today
and I asked your name that I might pray with meaning
to a God who counts in ones.

I left you, with the lightest touch of hand upon your shoulder.
"I'll be thinking of you" I said and turned away
deep sighs of prayer rising like bubbles in a well
yet inwardly I grieved at my inability to really tell you what I knew;
the clumsy shallowness and guardedness shyness
of my words.

Five minutes later and a mile away I stopped my bike.
I would write a note instead and cycle back to where you were.
I am better with ink than spoken talk
and soon a message formed beneath the pen
and I set off to you again.

But these were many minutes gone and I suspected you
like the footsteps of the clock, would also have moved on.
Though strangely, it seemed to me,
between the looking and the finding,
the looking was the more important of the two -
a kind of prayer made tangible by time.

I never found you. I put my note in a telephone box
Someday someone with your name may open it and be blessed.
A chance in a million that it might be you.

But even if it never is, remember this...
A stranger came to look for you, Rebecca,
and love was in the looking.

This is God's parable to you.

Don't hide away.

(c) A McN


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