Righteous roof, righteous bridge
We count on structures, and people, to be what they were designed to be
The third and final book in the St. Michael Trilogy begins with a teenage boy listening to the Simon and Garfunkle song, “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” It is reported the same tune was playing on the campanile in the tower of Minneapolis City Hall the afternoon the Interstate 35W bridge fell into the Mississippi River.
It seems like cruel irony. The bridge so many people needed failed them. It will take a while to determine with any certainty exactly why the span went down when it did.
Twin Citians understand the importance of bridges. Many of us could not get to work without them. Thousands of us need to cross the Mississippi River, the Minnesota River and the St. Croix River on a daily basis. And we count on our bridges to be trustworthy.
I’m reminded of a seminary professor who tried to explain the meaning of the Hebrew word which is translated into English as “righteous.” The professor said, “This word does not so much refer to moral rectitude or one’s worthiness before God. It has a fairly simple and mundane meaning. For Old Testament readers, to be righteous meant ‘to be what you are supposed to be, to do what you are designed to do.’”
He went on to explain why the Hebrew word for righteous could even be applied to something inanimate, like a wall. He said, “A righteous wall is one that does what it was designed to do — namely, stand up straight and not fall down on top of passersby.”
Regrettably, the I-35W bridge turned out, after 40 years, not to have been altogether righteous.
A story out of England reported the death of a woman who stood in the doorway of a 400-year-old house. A slate from the roof slid off and killed her. It was determined that the roofer, long dead, had taken a short-cut and left one of the fasteners off when attaching the slate. Centuries later the “unrighteous roof” killed the woman.
Human beings are righteous when they become what they’re designed to be — salt, light, truth-tellers, lovers, people of integrity.