Thursday, June 24, 2010

"Love can build a bridge..."

"Love can build a bridge
between your heart and mine.
Love can build a bridge,
don't you think it's time,
don't you think it's time...."

Yes, I am at camp.  Just in case anyone was wondering when that shift in river landscapes - from the lazy waters of wide Mississippi in the  heartland, to the narrows of the Arkansas that courses through heaven on earth - was going to happen.

As I unpacked my quilts, filled the hummingbird feeder, and hung my little white fairy lights along the familiar log walls of Crowsnest, it was The Judd's "
Love Can Build a Bridge," that whispered to me through the aspen leaves, and swirled among the scent of pines.

It's a funny thing how a song can find its way back into your heart,  reminding you of a long-forgotten moment.  And perhaps it was the slant of the late afternoon sun resting along the roofline of Valerie Lodge, or the particular way the breeze was carrying the sound of laughter up from the lawn, but tonight, I was - in an instant - transported to a evening 17 years ago.

It was the end of second session.  We'd had a truly remarkable five weeks of spiritual discovery, transformation, and healing as a camp family, and everyone was sun-kissed, grateful, and deeply inspired that last night.  

My (now) brother-in-law, Floyd, was on staff and the campers had come to know him, not only as an amazing counselor, but as a wandering minstrel, a contemporary troubadour in Guatemalan pants and ill-matched tee-shirts. 

Each night, he and a group of girl campers from South Pines East, would wander camp -- from cabin-to-cabin -- singing a soft, sweet, and low acoustic version of "
More Than Words," as an end-of-day lullaby/serenade.  We all loved it.  It was deeply quieting, and set a tone of gentleness throughout camp.  When it was time for the final "lights out," every cabin seemed ready for rest. 

I'd often sit on my porch, and watch he and the girls, stroll across the lawn and along the camp road strumming and singing softly.  It was always a marvel, to me, that he could play the guitar and walk at the same time.

But the sessions flew by - as camp always does.  And before we knew it we were packing to go home.  When a few of us thought about pulling together a piece for the end of session talent show, it was a "no-brainer."  Love had built so many bridges between our hearts -- during those weeks of living love on mountaintops, along riverbanks, and on horseback -- that there was only one song we could imagine singing as our benediction on a summer well-lived and loved. 

So, just before the talent show Floyd, another friend, Chris, and I sat in my cabin -- the same cabin I am in right now -- practicing our song.  That summer, it had become an anthem for
how to dissolve anything that would keep us - all of us - from experiencing the kind of brother and sisterhood in Christ that we hungered for, and for which camp had been such a perfect laboratory for discovering in ourselves, and one another. 

Our performance that night was a lovely moment for the three of us. It was a benediction on our weeks of gratitude and friendship.  But it was the depth to which that song pierced through something very dark and heavy in me -- that gave it its enduring home in my heart.

And then -- when I found myself standing on, what seemed like the other side of an impossible-to-bridge organizational - and philosophical - chasm from a number of people I loved and respected, it was this song that gave me all the encouragement I needed to be able to reach out in collegial, and spiritual, fellowship without fear of rejection.

This is the poem that followed:

Dear Friend
I am so sorry...
I've been waiting for
to be the one
to lay the first beam -
a board,
a plank,
brick by brick
-- to span
the abyss between

I am tired of holding this impossible
intractably fatal

a position that is
shakily based on
who is right,
or who
we think
is wrong,

But truth be told,
I am more
hungry for your companionship
on this journey of spiritual
and healing,
than I am in
being right.

placing my flag
on the summit
of this issue,
mountain of
conflicting opinions
I no longer care to
even climb
or weigh in on.

We've each
had to
wrestle with,
and surrender our false notions about,  
the immeasurable weight,
the unexpected burden,
the load of care,
the heaviness
of this calling.

in that yielding, we've
each discovered the
the illumination
spiritual elevation of
looking out
a view from
this blessed cross we share
as His servants,
as healers

We know the joy
of the call --
the one that,
whether it comes
in the black of night
blaze of day,
is as sweet
as breath of summer air...

sound of 
someone saying,
through grateful tears...

You're fired!

I'm healed.

Your daughter and mine share a common
thread of childhood memories.
bittersweet recollections
dinners interrupted
by the ringing of a phone

of a napkin laid aside
and a mother's quiet exit from the table
while everyone  tries to pretend
her chair isn't empty,

of getting to school
almost late - just as
the last
rings - because
we picked up the
ringing phone
and took the call,
while she waited
by the door,
coat on,
backpack shouldered...

of mother/daughter
put on hold.
of lullabies,
hanging in mid-air,

like perfume
in an empty room.

we share so much.

What disputed
could be so
important that
they would keep us from
each other's embrace,
bridging the
laying the plank that begins to span
the chasm
which seems to
lie between our hearts
our offices,
our lives,
our sisterhood?

Can someone else's
interpretations of texts,
or motives,
give us
permission to
for the other, in
or shine...

not be
our best

What is standing in
my way?


Yes, I think
it is fear.

that I didn't
take a stand,
my stand,
his stand,
her stand,
their stand.

fear that by loving you
without question or
I was saying you,
were right --
and therefore,
I was wrong.

fear that I didn't hold out.

But hold out
for what?
for who?

When does Love cease to
be loving,
blind to
opinions -- all
for the sake of
being on the
right side?

When do I begin to
take responsibility
for the actions of my
own heart?

When do I finally
become accountable
my own
and aims -
unreasonable love.

Love doesn't care who
makes the first move,
who picks up the phone,
the olive branch --
the first call...

It doesn't matter to Love
who is the first to
reach out a hand in fellowship,
lay the beam that bridges our
polite distance.

doesn't know you -- from me.

Love doesn't know two sides
Love doesn't care who wins,
or who is right,
or who is who.

Love knows no important names,
no offices held,
no essays written,
no talks delivered,
no years of service,
no generations of legacy
no "my" side of the chasm.

Love is
neither side.
Love is not you,
or me.
Love is what happens
on that bridge.

Love is only found
in the bridging,
the spanning, the
the touching,
the understanding
the tears of compassion,

Love knows no nouns.

Love knows only this:

how to
BE love.

But then, so do we.

It is what we share -- this love.
It is what we have in common and
what has brought us here
to this place of common hope.

we share
our hope
that all may know Love
as their only life.

I think it's time.

for our daughters,
and their daughters,
and the sons of their daughters'

Yes, it's time.
don't you think it's time?
our time.

I am realizing, more and more each day, that the goal of the ego, or mortal mind, is separation...separation from God, separation from good, and separation from one another.  But Love unifies us behind a common purpose.  The roles, tasks and titles will change over and over again between people, but Love has the power to build new bridges, forge new beams -- gentle beams of living love -- between our hearts. 

So grateful for this reminder....

Kate Robertson, CS

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