The bridge over the Llano River on Texas County Road 103 is humble. It’s built of concrete and rebar on top of natural granite rocks in the river bottom. It’s uneven, narrow, not level and somewhat curved. It is, perhaps, the best damn little bridge I’ve ever had the pleasure of driving across. It’s built like a tank. It seems to be built strong to weather a storm for a traveler passing along the way.

Here I stood in the early morning, disappointed that the sun was occluded by an overcast sky with forbidding clouds. I walked from one side of the bridge that I had just driven over to the opposite side – looking at the details and the surrounding wildlife. Frogs and turtles hid among the rocks sliding into the water as I passed. Fish jumped in the open water, eating bugs floating on the slow moving eddies of water. I jumped over some rocks on the far side – seeking a spot on top of an outcropping in the middle of the river.

A rancher, his wife and their dog were in a pickup truck that drove across the bridge. We waved at each other in a typical gesture of “Howdy” common on the back roads of Texas. After crossing the bridge, the truck pulled to the side of the road. The gentleman and his wife exited the vehicle, and their dog jumped out as well. The dog quickly ran to the bridge and jumped into the water. “You’ve got to stop and let your dog play in the river,” the man said to me as we exchanged morning pleasantries. His wife smiled broadly at her husband in an obvious expression of deep love. They were joined together at the hips, walking side by side holding hands as they crossed the bridge. Just then, I noticed another dog, smaller and more agile, had jumped out of the truck. It was a little Jack Russel, running full steam to catch up to his family and upon reaching his goal, thrust himself off the bridge into the river. The big dog and the small dog joyfully climbed on the rocks, bringing themselves out of the river, and patiently waited for a stick to be thrown by the rancher. He obliged. “Go get it!” he said as he tossed it into the river. The big dog lunged into the river to get the stick, while the small dog seemingly just jumped in to make a splash. We talked briefly about the morning and I told them that I really loved this area of Texas – the Llano Uplift – where gigantic rocks of marble and granite dot the landscape. The land is rich with a dirt that resembles that found in Georgia, a rich warm brown. We parted ways with a cordial expression – “I hope to see y’all later – have a great day!”

As I walked along back to my car, I looked down the river to where the sun was rising behind the clouds, hidden and unseen. I spoke to God silently and gave thanks to Heavenly Father for His presence in my life. I asked him to let the couple know that He loved them. I was grateful for their company, and happy to know that they are a part of our world.

The headlines of the day are filled with chaos, violence, envy, and hatred. I have been discouraged by those headlines, feeling that my soul is boxed into a corner, because many people have been deceived to think that envy is a virtue and not a vice. I hope that you will forgive me as I reengage my life to actively find beauty where none is thought to exist.

Where better to seek beauty than on an old forgotten bridge over troubled waters, seemingly without traffic or purpose. What better way to inspire and brighten the day – seemingly gloomy, sullen and in despair – than to find an example of love, hope, happiness, and life.

So, I share with you this story and picture of hope – to know that life is a blessing, rich with beauty, love and happiness. I hope that you’ll look for and find those hidden things in your life as well – and know that they merely await to be discovered.