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Down by the Riverside


     Ed and I stood on the Delhi Bridge over the Huron River looking at the rapids. Built in 1883, this wrought iron bridge is a Michigan Historic Site, notable for its Pratt through truss construction. (You can look it up.)
     Local legend has it that two residents, Eli Gallup and Edward Outwater, salvaged the bridge in 1917 after it had been thrown into the river by a tornado. They used a team of horses to pull it out. The bridge was rebuilt in 1918 using many of the original trusses.
     As we stood on the bridge and looked at the water rushing over the rocks, we remembered the times we'd used this rapids as a whitewater practice run. "That's the best route," I said, tracing a line just off a big rock. I prefer to skirt the holes and avoid the biggest waves.
     "You could take the middle chute today," Ed said. He likes high water and waves.
     One winter day we saw a kayaker roll over in the middle chute. Brrr. So far, we haven't flipped in Delhi. But that doesn't keep my heart from pounding every time we approach the horizon line of the rapids.
     As we stood on the bridge, I also remembered my friend Barbara Lewis-Lakin, who helped me navigate many internal rapids. Church conflicts, family trauma, the challenges of parenting. Barbara died unexpectedly on June 29th at age 67. We'd known each other almost forty years.
     How I miss her. Barbara comforted me, goaded me, counseled me, consoled me. And sometimes allowed me to do the same for her. I remember a particular day when she sat with my family in the hospital as we waited for news about my sister-in-law who was critically ill with bacterial meningitis.
     Barbara Lewis-Lakin was a godsend to her family, her friends, her colleagues, her clients, her parishioners. A consummate listener, she was someone we could trust. Like "a bridge over troubled water," she laid herself down for us.
     Thank you, Barb, for being my friend.
     Whether it's a family member, a therapist, a pastor, an AA sponsor, or a friend, give thanks today for someone who's helped you navigate the rapids of your life.


"Deep calls to deep at the thunder of your cataracts." Psalm 42:7 (NRSV)
Playlist: "Bridge Over Troubled Water," Simon & Garfunkel, Bridge Over Troubled Water, 1970.

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