The night was chill, and the air grew crisper as the sun set into an endless horizon of rolling hills in Argentina. As my friend and I paced through the streets, we followed the blinding luster of the sun’s slowly fading light. We could almost hear our shadows shatter as they fell behind us onto the wintry ground beneath our feet as the broken pieces of our silhouettes slowly sifted away into the silence of the ever-darkening night.
There was only one way to get to our destination—and that was to cross an old bridge that spanned over a vast ravine which seemed to reach into the depths of hell. There was nothing attractive as to what lay beneath this dreary overpass: a filthy stream cluttered with waste, which to the passerby clearly signified nothing but incivility.
Engrossed in a deep and enthralling conversation, my companion and I remained ignorant to our surroundings. We failed to hear two men’s footsteps follow after our own, as we found ourselves midway over this very same bridge we were afraid to cross. Two culprits, one with what appeared in the dimming light to be a gun, were following after us. Despite our attempts to get away, the men stopped us and thrust the cold hard object into my companion’s side, demanding that both of us give them our winter coats. Without warning they forcefully placed their filthy and callused hands on us and began removing our jackets themselves, leaving us exposed to the bitter wintry night air.
After removing my coat, the man grabbed me by the shoulder and thrust his other hand into my suit coat, feeling around for other objects he could take from me. He lay his hand upon my wallet that I had tucked away some time before. I had forgotten to remove it from my right inner breast pocket before leaving our apartment that bitter cold evening.
“What’s this?” he yelled.
I didn’t know what to respond, so I began praying with all my heart for an answer and for a reassurance that both myself and my companion would soon be freed from this terrible situation. I frantically thought about what I could tell him. I was forced to make a decision: do I tell the man the truth, or do I risk both my life and the life of my friend and feign innocence, hoping he doesn’t find out what the object is?
“What’s this?” the man inquired again, demanding an answer without further delay. The thought entered into my mind that I simply play innocent as to my knowledge of what that object was. At the time it didn’t make much sense to me, but I did it anyway, without any hesitation. “I don’t…I don’t know.” I replied. Without further questioning, and for some unexplainable reason, the man withdrew his hand from my jacket, leaving my wallet in its place, and just as fast and as quietly as these two men came, they fled into that dark abyss below, beneath the dreadful bridge.
Why that man never took my wallet is beyond me. All I know is that someone was watching out for the both of us that night. I’ve often reflected on that experience and have come to the realization and firm belief that no matter what situation I find myself in, I can always find peace and reassurance and often the answer to my cries of desperation through the supernal gift of prayer. With the knowledge of this great truth, I have been able to build my own bridge over the troubled waters of my life many times over. This I believe.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.