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A Shout From The Attic: Boy On A Bridge

...Humanity stands suspended between truth and error, between imprisonment and freedom, between light and darkness, heaven and earth, life and death,,,

Ronnie Bray muses on the meaning of life.

In time, the old footbridge from Colne Road to Damside died and was laid to rest. Were I to cross the ugly new iron and concrete footbridge, I still could not make it across non-stop. Even now, I would be compelled to take my customary pause and see if ancient questions and their solutions were revived in my memory.

Invariably, my most pressing enigma was “What am I doing here, and how do I get out of it?” Life held few agreeable things for me – an awkward, shy, and uncertain young boy who felt that he did not belong.

Being in the middle of the bridge seemed to remove me from the arena of conflict and life’s unending pain. My folded arms and my chest, plonked on the flimsy handrail, would take the weight off my body and my legs would be freed from the earth. I did not reach up as far as heaven but I was suspended from the earth and its sullen concerns, at least for a time.

The gloomy waters swirled below. With a little application, it could seem as if I was moving backwards, and the river standing still. Had I invented time travel? The coloration of the water was remarkable; several mills along that stretch poured out their effluent openly, untrammelled by environmental concerns.

Dye works, plentiful then in the West Riding, transformed common cloth pieces into bright hues of exotic imagination, and unconsciously lent otherworldly shades to the foul water. It was beautiful to dream above such brilliance and splendour, but bad news for the fish that occasionally tried to establish themselves where their ancestors had splashed and played in the clear waters of pre-industrial times.

What had life been like? This had always been one of my common musings. Who had lived in those houses years ago? What were they like and, were they happy? Imagining that everyone else’s life was a perfect heaven of happiness and pleasure, I transported myself into their lives, escaping the unacceptable reality of my own life. It worked for as long as the sun shone, the rain stayed away, or my arms and chest began to hurt from holding me up. One needs fair weather and rigour to dream well. To escape, one needs miracles.

Wandering across the other half of the bridge, the dreaming over, and the pedestrian hurting world back on top, I pondered how I could escape. With no sense of dying and no thoughts of running away entering my mind, I looked for an answer that never came. At least, not during my childhood.

There are other bridges. During my passage over the bridge from childhood to manhood, I discovered God and His religion. Two Mormon missionaries taught me such things that made me marvel, and my spirit was deeply touched. Then began the transformation of my life, the secret of a happy life was not to escape, not to run away, but to find and walk a different road.

The answer to my predicament was not to be found by gazing aimlessly into polluted waters, however attractive they are made to appear. Truth and release are obtained in the clear light of heaven and the goodness of God and his Son.

Humanity stands suspended between truth and error, between imprisonment and freedom, between light and darkness, heaven and earth, life and death: looking in the wrong direction, expecting magic from impotence, and miracles from empty hands, whilst the greatest liberating power in the universe waits to bless us if we will but turn our eyes to him.

Still stands the bridge from God to man. Still stands the ancient promise:

Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free


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