Out of the blue, I decided to build a small ornamental footbridge for my garden. I thought my grandchildren would enjoy the shortcut on the way to pond. That is what I told myself.
I purchased a kit. The reviews on Amazon said it would take three hours to assemble.
It took me four days.
No matter. I had the time. It was May 2020 and having just returned from Florida, I was in a two week quarantine. Alone and without the use of my car, the walls began to close in on me. My car had been in storage and with the DMV indefinitely closed, I could not retrieve my license plates. So this project helped to fill the time. As the bridge began to take shape, I felt glimmers of empowerment, an elevated kind of liberation. My spirits lifted. More than a charming ornament for the garden, my bridge offered me a sense of connections. It carried me across a self-imposed threshold. And when I thought more about it, I realized the deeper meaning and the lure of bridges.
Connections, Allure and Discoveries
Perhaps you too have a fascination with bridges. If you live and play along the eastern seaboard of our country, you might recognize an acute rise of your senses, even a playful mind energy, when driving over the suspension bridges that arc over rivers and bays. I love the old Walt Whitman Bridge that spans the Delaware River, connecting New Jersey with Pennsylvania. Less grand but nonetheless compelling is the small bridge only 1500 feet from my home. When I drive over it, I instinctively look out my car window to the small inlet that leads to the open bay. My mind lets go and drifts out to the bay, to beyond what my eyes can see. There is limitless expectation. My mind enters a realm of possibilities.
On the Brink of Everything
In his book, On the Brink of Everything, Parker Palmer creates a powerful mix of expectation and unbounded hope. Maybe that is why I moved my writing table to the back of the house, in full view of my small footbridge. There, I sit at the entryway to everything.
My young grandchildren live their lives on the brink of everything. I love watching their sense of expectation. Learning is their life’s work. And the lessons they learn everyday are their bridges to new understandings. They stumble and get up, they try new ways, they move forward, reaching beyond their grasp. Undeterred, they live and learn in bubbles of unbounded hope.
I would like to bottle that up—all that expectation. Unfortunately, my enthusiasm can wan. Discouragements can color the day. So I need my reminders. I watch the children. I can learn from them. .
Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein. Mark 10:13-16 KJV
Life Lessons as Bridges
My life lessons have been painful. But am I not here to learn, to cross those bridges? John Dewey said we are not ready-made, but we experience growth in a continuous formation. I have read somewhere that our minds are like flowers that open only when the time is right. Well on that day in May, my mind opened a bit with that little footbridge. No longer limited by the illusion of isolation, I felt unbounded and free—free to be carried to the brink of everything.
**George Colman Quotes. (n.d.). BrainyQuote.com. Retrieved January 2, 2021, from BrainyQuote.com Web site: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/george_colman_182722