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Bridging the Distance

What do you see in this photograph? Better yet, what do you feel when you look at it? According to its source ( the bridge exists in Da Nang, Viet Nam. That location likely stirs up strong thoughts and emotions. Yet the image is powerful - scads of people held in the air by a giant, sturdy hand.

It is curious to think about standing in the palm of that massive hand. It is certainly stunning to see it from a distance. But there's a difference between viewing a photograph of the bridge and standing in a crowd of people on the bridge. Just like there's a difference between imagining something and living it. Or having an idea of something and actually working to bring it to fruition. Or believing something and having an encounter that contradicts that belief. Sometimes the bridge between the two is easily collapsed. Other times it is a painful process to dismantle the construction that has become an obstruction in the way of reality. Much of it likely depends upon how sacred the bridge is to us. Meaning, whether we want to keep the distance in place or not.

We've had years of practice now. Social distancing. Many public locations have not removed the signs instructing visitors to stand in a certain place so that the carefully measured space between others might be preserved. Even though it is no longer strictly enforced many of us are more sensitive to personal space now than we were before the pandemic. But to take the concept in a different direction, unspoken social norms dictate that proximity to certain people is all but taboo. Invisible bridges exist separating persons according to race, economic status, heritage, age, and any number of other largely visible factors. Seldom do we bridge the distance in order to connect with, learn about, be enriched by, or simply enjoy the personhood of those on the "other side." Significantly, unnervingly, we might discover that the bridge exists only in our heads and is made of preconceived assumptions... pretty unreliable stuff.

Yesterday evening during a Wild Goose Uprising ( a young person spoke about how some churches say they want more young people to come into their communities but if some actually do they are not accepted as they are. In such cases, there's not a willingness to bridge the distance between the idea of having young people in the midst and the reality of the young person actually standing in the midst. Sad. We could all think of ourselves as being held in the palm of a very sturdy albeit unseen hand!

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