by Vincent Vidriales
As a child, you really don’t know what you don’t know.
But the one thing you do instinctively know is when something is just not right.
Gazing low from the back seat window of the family wagon, I slowly awakened from a numbing dream scape of the hypnotic flashes from the guard rail lights embedded in the San Mateo bridge in 1970. I was trying to piece together these mysterious human emotions that are just too deep for words.
We were on the lam and coming home from an extended stay away from a broken Christmas. As a tender aged boy of 8, I was drowning in a hypothermic state of toxic stress when I heard something from the radio that was so profound that it provided a faint spark that illuminated my dark world. Like a refreshing stream hope slowly seeped through the dry cracks and provided much needed nourishment for my troubled soul.
“When you're weary - feeling small - when tears are in your eyes - I will dry them all, I'm on your side, oh - when times get rough - and friends just can't be found - like a bridge over troubled water – I will lay me down”
I didn’t hear much beyond the first verse of the song because it completely wrecked me. For the first time, I was awakened to something so deep that it moved me towards hope. I knew that something out there understood me and that I was not alone. I tasted faith for the first time and came to believe that no matter how troubled the waters, there will always be a bridge that will lead me home.
As adults we are sometimes haunted by the shadows of yesteryear, and we try and hide and lock away the shame from others. We build up walls to protect ourselves from additional suffering, but at the same time, these walls also keep us from experiencing the blessing of all the good stuff that is happening around us.
When life’s experiences are shared, whether good or bad, it connects us, strengthens us, and helps us to relate to others.
When I reflect on the kindness of others that helped filled the gaps of my own life and piece together my broken bridge, I also recognize that these simple acts of grace can not only change the trajectory of a person’s life, but also change the legacy of future generations.
Those who are willing to fill in the gaps and engage in bridge building in their world, need to accept the fact that at times they will be required to lay themselves down, to be walked on and be unnoticed. Along the way, we celebrate the victories of those who make it to the other side, and we also mourn for those who fall through the cracks and into the water under the bridge. At the end of the day, we are all broken and maybe just need a touch of grace to find our way home.