Gran's Apple Butter Blog

October 20, 2011

Going Home, Excerpt: Bridges (7/V)

Chapter 7 – Bridges

One thing about traveling: You cross a lot of bridges. But what about when you need a bridge and there isn’t one to be found? Maybe it’s been washed away, or maybe it never existed in the first place.

Then, Gran said, you become a master bridge builder. It’s not impossible, but it takes real effort, and drumming up the will to make that effort can be the hardest part.

Sometimes it’s better to look for a different place to cross. There may be another road, another bridge, another gatekeeper. Let’s face it, bridge construction is hard work and takes a lot of energy, so we want to be wise about when and where and how we undertake this. These projects cost an arm and a leg, and not just in terms of ego-stretching and letting-go. Sometimes there’s a price we’re not ready, or even able, to pay. Or maybe we’re not in the position to build that bridge, but Joe down the street is. If we can connect with him, the road will still go through.

We also cross bridges leaving places. The lesson here, Gran said, is learning to cross gently, without burning anything behind us. Granted, that’s not always an option. No matter how much we want to keep that bridge, there may be someone happy to burn it for us, goodbye and good riddance, don’t hurt yourself on the door on your way out. When that happens, Gran said it was usually best to keep on moving, making a note to stop by once the smoke has cleared.

Sometimes there’s a way to rebuild that bridge. Sometimes there isn’t. That’s just the way it works. Sometimes we return to find that bridge already half built from the other side, just waiting for us to finish it. Other times we work ourselves to death, building a two-mile extension bridge with the best materials we can buy, putting our hearts and time and energy into it, and just as we’re about to step across, someone sneaks up with that match again.

Then what? We can try to strike up a conversation, but they generally only work when they’re two-way. We can start building again, if that feels right, or we can take off on another adventure, planning to stop by later. If this happens enough times, and we’ve got the scorch marks to prove it, we can also say heck with that, I’m done bridge-building here, and we can head on down the road ‘til we find a place to sit and draw our circle, sharing our love from a distance. Sometimes that may be our best choice, Gran said.

It’s a tough decision, but when it’s clear that we’re the only ones who want a bridge that works both ways, trying to build that bridge over and over can be guilt’s way of side-tracking us from what we’re really supposed to be doing. Carrying a load of guilt doesn’t make one righteous, Gran said, but it will keep one resistant. Sometimes things happen just so we can learn from them, one of those contracts being fulfilled. Once we learn the moral, we can let the story go.

Of course, if the other side of that bridge was an important piece of our home at one time, this tends to leave holes in our hearts. Holes that can’t hold anything anyone tries to put in them, holes that don’t have anything in them to give anyone else, just a big bunch of empty air.

We can patch these holes, like we’ve already talked about. Gran recommended this, although in her experience, one’s heart was never the same afterward. For one thing, her heart was a whole lot stronger, due to repairing itself, like any muscle. But even with that added strength, there would still be a scar. That’s why it’s important to keep building bridges as long as it feels like there’s a bridge to be built.

Once we patch that hole, Gran said, it’ll take some time for the wound to heal. As an echo of our past, that scar may be tender for a long time, but Gran thought that’s what scars were for – to remind us of the lessons we’ve learned and how important bridge building is, and maybe even to remind us to take care of the ones we already have.

© Mary Batson, Going Home, Front Porch Rambles, and Gran’s Apple Butter Blog, 2010-2011. All rights reserved.
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