‘This painting of Venice, by Joseph Turner, shows the chief magistrate’s palace here on the left,’ the docent said. ‘Directly across from the palace, over the Rio de Palazzo is a prison. This bridge that connects the two buildings is called the Bridge of Sighs.’
‘What did you say it’s called?’ I asked the art museum guide. ‘.’ He replied.
Then he continued, ‘It was believed the condemned prisoners would sigh as they were led across it to the executioner.’
How sad. It’s name echoed despair.
I continued to move along with the tour group, but my thoughts lingered on the Bridge of Sighs. However, the gloomy cloud lifted as I envisioned another bridge.
Its rough-hewn timbers were fastened together into the shape of a cross. It stood on Golgotha’s hill over bloodstained ground, amidst the aura of death and gasps of agony. This bridge spanned the gulf between the prison of sin and the palace of eternal life.
As I strolled through the museum with the other visitors, I thought about how Jesus extended himself as a bridge and delivered me from a life of hopelessness. Consequently, I remembered an event from John Bunyan’s classic, The Pilgrim’s Progress.
Christian, the journeying pilgrim, traveled with a heavy load on his back. He came to a hill. On it stood a cross and below it, at the bottom, was a tomb. When Christian came up to the cross, his burden loosened from his shoulders and fell onto the ground. It rolled and rolled until it tumbled into the empty tomb. He never saw it again.
Christian stood in awe at the sight of the cross – amazed that his oppressive burden dropped and rolled away so quickly. He felt released from the pressure he had carried. As a result, he wept and sang and leaped for joy. The cross became a bridge that brought him from a life of despondent sighing, to overflowing gladness and singing.
Although I was standing amid a crowd in a metropolitan art museum, I closed my eyes for a brief moment. Silently, I thanked God for the hope and comfort I found in Him. Like Christian, I basked in a feeling of warm joy because He gave me a new song – when I met Him at the cross. He turned my sighing into singing!
Mary E. McCloud is a truth lover, Christ follower and registered nurse. She attends The Living Word Church in Greenville, Tx., Scott McManus pastor.