A monk asked Chao Chou, ‘For a long time, I’ve heard of the stone bridge of Chao Chou, but now that I’ve come here I just see simple log bridge.’

Chou said, ‘You only see the log bridge, you don’t see the stone bridge.’

The monk asked, ’What is the stone bridge?’

Chou replied, ‘It lets asses cross, it lets horses cross.’

~ Blue Cliff Record, Case 52

What a wonderful duel! The monk commits his whole being to challenge mighty Chou, who chastens him terribly: ‘You only see the log bridge, not the stone bridge,’ he points out. Chou, however, in a broader teaching, offers to the monk that even he ~ be he an ass, a horse, or a horse’s ass ~ can cross over the stone bridge. And it is also true that our own greatest dreams, fears and triumphs gallop over that bridge, as well.

track runners.png

An old friend recently sent without introduction a FB video link of a college track race; I knew her son ran in high school. There were only a couple of likes; perhaps not a good sign. I clicked on the link and began watching the 7-1/2 minute 4×800 meter relay race between Duke, Army and a couple of small schools, where I thought he probably attended as a freshman. As the race went on, I was a bit disappointed because they stopped showing the small-school runners as they fell behind. Duke led the whole race, and then on the last leg, her son, who I had not seen in years, took the baton for Duke, running in the critical anchor position. I was shocked. For me, it was like seeing a high-school kid suddenly leap onto a Broadway stage.

For nearly two minutes he led in a flat-out contest with the Army runner. But in the last seconds, the Army runner edged ahead to win by inches. On camera, I could see that my friend’s son was stunned and devastated. The FB comments were as might be expected: well meaning and encouraging, but to him, probably of little value. Perhaps, deeply discouraged, at the finish line he could only see the log bridge. Someday I hope he ~ and all of us ~ see the bridge for the stone that it is.

And even though it all went wrong,

I’ll stand before the Lord of Song,

With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah

(Leonard Cohen)