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Golden Gate Bridge

San Francisco

One of the central metaphors for my work and sense of vocation is a bridge. This summer I saw one of the most iconic bridges of the American imagination: Golden Gate in San Francisco, California. Both days we got close to the bridge it was shrouded partially in fog. Not unusual in the Bay area. Not unusual for the work of bridge building and walking.

Bridges are also iconic for the religious imagination. Metaphors are “idea bridges” that bring and hold together things that otherwise may not seem related. Like body and bread, or tree and knowledge, or word and sacrament, or grace and enemies.

Practices of faith are often “relational  bridges” that bring and hold together people that otherwise might not seem related. Like Christians and Muslims who pray together, or or homeless and wealthy people who share a meal together, or you and your neighbor who take communion together.

Stories are often “conceptual bridges” that hold belief and practice together, or bring good news to a place of desolation, or make a way for wisdom and need to meet. In the stories are connections and gifts that run deep and cannot be reduced to bricks and mortar or technology or logic.

Stories, practices and metaphors are the bridges that connect us body and soul to each other.  They are connections that build a community and make collaboration possible.

Religious metaphors, practices and stories don’t just connect. They also leave out and separate. With every choice and connection, we also lose something else. Building and walking bridges is a matter of grief as well as a cause for celebration. That is a design flaw in the human condition. We learn and forget. Share power and lose it.  Long for connection and yet miss the very thing we desire in the fog sometimes.

Yet bridges remain a sign and symbol of hope in the faithful life. Connection is possible. Creativity grows when we reach across the waves of contention or the valleys of despair. A well-worn bridge is often the way home.

More needs saying. But tonight I simply leave you with these questions:

* What people, places or good ideas are you trying to hold together creatively in your life?

* When  you look around your life, what things seem related but not yet connected? How will you bring them into proximity?

* What is stretching you into new territory?

* How might crossing a bridge change your perspective?

* What story needs telling that might connect you to someone important for your well being?

* Where is the grief in deciding?  Where is the joy?