Great Bridges: Carlisle

Last week, I walked over Carlisle Bridge. This great structure from the 1840s is not found in that Cumbrian city, but in Lancaster, for it bears the north-south trains over the River Lune. It has always been painted a distinctive blue colour for as long as I can remember. Twice each day and four times on a Sunday, I would ascend its steps and cross the great river to attend school and church. Once, I recall some poor soul's suicide attempt; nowadays, various helplines are advertised at both ends. Back in 1993, a gentleman whom I presumed was a denizen of the notorious and nearby Ryelands council estate attempted to steal my watch. I was only 13, and I explained to him that I would prefer to keep it. I guess he was not a very good mugger or thief, because he apparently accepted this explanation.

I was a little shaken, though it proved an interesting tale for the following day’s English lesson. If, since that episode, I have grown in courage and confidence, one wonders if he did likewise, offering his next victim greater threat than I received. Virtues and vices mature with age; it depends which ones we feed. The Christian cannot be any more loved or saved than he already is, but he may still grow in grace:

You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 3:17-18 (NKJV)

If your knowledge and grace are not growing, rest assured, other things are.