8  G E N E R . S TA R K burden of souls hungry for the Word and Sacrament that I car- ried to them now. Crossing the river, such a fearful thing! The other side was indeed tranquil and offered peace, but the crossing terrified me. Even as I had come to trust in the other side and witnessed to my faith in the eternal peace of heaven, I now understood the fear that we all harbor about that eternal crossing. I knew I must press onward with all the faithful. I tentatively coaxed my horse into the water. She was reluctant and took considerable urging to head for the far shore. She finally entered the water and all was well for a considerable distance. I felt I had chosen the correct route. I was still well above the water as the horse plodded belly- deep in the current. Suddenly the horse plunged deeper and was swimming coura- geously for the far shore. Just as suddenly, I felt the wagon begin to list and sink deeper, and in a moment’s time, it had sunk from beneath me. I clung to the back wheel, since I could not swim. The wagon sank completely, and I released it from my grasp. My breath left me as the water penetrated my clothes. The cold pierced through me like cold steel nails. I was pulled downstream by the icy current, losing all control in the treacherous flow. Only by God’s grace did I remain above the water. The words of the Catechism rang in my intellect. “Thee I floated, as though born up by the very wings of angels.” With my heavy cold-weather clothes, I felt I was lost yet I stayed afloat. The burnt, black stubs of the pilings of the old bridge stared at me like black demons. Yet they caught my attention, and again, by nothing less than a miracle, I was swept into one of the burned bridge supports. I clung to it with every ounce of effort left in my cold-shocked body and was able to stay above water. My fingers stiffened and became numb from the cold. I knew that I must get out of the icy water and make it to shore. I released my grip from the piling and reached for the next part of the old bridge. By some supernatural power from above, I was able to creep from piling to piling and