Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Tracing Cracks

I cross numerous sets of rail on my way to work. One such set is downtown. It winds it's way over the river, under a bridge & beneath an overpass. I got stuck the other day... There's no escaping if the crossing arms descend. Waist high barriers line the road for a block & a half & the only recourse one has is to turn off the engine & dig into a good book. On this particular day, we had already been sitting there for 10 minutes & the train stopped... not a good sign. People started exiting their cars to pace the road & complain to each other. I put my book down & stared up at the underbelly of the overpass. Swallows had built mud nests in various places. My eyes followed the pockmarks, the graffiti, the chalk lines with numbers. The what? Someone had traced the cracks in the concrete & labeled each one with a number. No doubt this was for the sake of maintenance, but it intrigued me.

I couldn't help but wonder in my own life, who inspects my proverbial underbelly? Who is qualified to leave their mark on me, to trace along the vulnerable cracks in my life, to give them a label & keep a record for future reference? Who determines whether I can bear the weight or whether I need to divert traffic & start repairs? Who is qualified to make that judgment? Have I simply let the structure of my life go unchecked? There are destructive forces at work everyday. Gravity, weight & the vibration of vehicles passing above & below contribute to the stress on an overpass. What is it for me or you? What contributes to our stress & weakness? What can we do to maintain a sound structure? Who gets to hold the chalk?

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