In the late 1970s, Bruce and Marg Bridger set off on a Saturday with a professional photographer to a beautiful natural setting on Lake Ontario east of Toronto known as the Scarboro bluffs. Their thinking was to find a huge rock where Marg and Bruce would pose back-to-back showing two clenched fists and through this picture weave in the thought of “Is Your Marriage on the Rocks?”
As they prepared to photograph the scene described above, they spotted a lifeline along the shore of the lake in the distance. From their perspective, the cross was in front with the ring and rope in the background. Immediately they were struck by the symbolism of tossing a lifeline to hurting couples and they knew God had helped them find a symbol worthy of the impact of the Retrouvaille ministry.
The stanchion in the form of a cross is a recognizable symbol of Christianity throughout the world. It is the sign of Jesus Christ in our midst, of His redemptive mission and of His healing power. The cross also represents the church – the people of God – the community of believers who should care enough to help one another along the journey.
The life preserver is a circle – a ring. These symbols mean many different things to different people. To us, the circle represents God – “I am the Alpha; I am the Omega” – no beginning; no end – infinitely and always. The circle also stands for the ongoing cycle of romance – disillusionment – misery – awakening, which exists in most marriage relationships. The ring is a rich symbol of matrimony – the unbroken bond of unity and love, which is the ideal for all married couples.
The lifeline, that stout rope, is the very essence of the Retrouvaille program. If the life preserver without a rope were to be tossed to a couple in the stormy seas of marital discord, they would be provided with a measure of hope for a time and some temporary relief from their difficulties. But essentially, they are still left to their own devices (flotation, that is) and remain in danger of tiring and sinking. Through the stout rope of the Retrouvaille program, their life preserver remains firmly anchored to the stanchion on shore. With the help of the program, they can inch their way to safety until such time as they reach solid footing at the base of the cross.
There, they might experience the goodness of our loving God and begin to understand the hopes and dreams our Creator has for each one of us. There, they might experience, maybe for the first time in their lives, the support of a caring community – the frontline workers in the Retrouvaille ministry and the ongoing support of the COREs.