Earlier this afternoon Heather called to me from the kitchen, “Michael, you have to see this.” I responded and looked and saw the strangest thing occurring in our backyard. A rather large tom turkey had leapt from the ground to the top of the wood fence that divides our back lawn from the neighbor’s behind us. The fence is close to 8 feet high. And narrow. But there he stood, wings spread widely for balance, precariously walking at an achingly slow pace across the top of fence. Heather and I looked at one another and asked, Why is he doing that? Who knows? But he made it and jumped off into our neighbor’s yard.
An influential Jewish Rabbi of the 18th century, Nachman of Bratzlav, wrote, “Life is a narrow bridge. The main thing is not to be afraid.” We know that Rabbi Nachman’s life was marked by physical and mental suffering, including the death of his wife and several children. The Rabbi surely knew the temptation to give up on God or give in to grief and resentment or sink into self-pity. But he did not, he courageously walked he narrow bridge and shares his hope and encouragement with us.
Most of the time, we do not know why life can become such a struggle. But it can. The thing is not to recoil in fear, or hide in the safe corners of our lives. We walk the precarious path with achingly careful, brave steps, knowing that no matter how narrow and stressful the walk may be - when we fall (and we will fall), there is a God and a God-given community that will catch us, hold us as we catch our breath, and send us on our way again.
Where can I go from your spirit?
Or where can I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths of the earth, you are there.
If I take the wings of the morning
and settle at the farthest limits of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me fast.