I am in Rome. ROME. I dreamed of many things as a child...dreams that seemed big to me at the time... but the idea that I would one day be walking the streets of Rome is beyond what even my intense imagination could have thought possible. Philosphies were born here, art was created here, science was advanced here--ROME.
I am in Rome, living with 15 others from 8 different countries, speaking in Spanish and English all day long. I am experiencing new aspects of my religious congregation, learning tangibly of its history, and trying to dance with my sisters from Congo and Kenya. I have eaten gelatto, learned how to conjugate three verbs in Portugese, and laughed and cried and been quiet and shouted the "grito" for Mexican independence.
And, in the City of Seven Hills, I have learned about bridges. Yes, bridges. The languages of this five months together are Spanish and English. I am comfortable in both, others here are not. A chance to be a bridge. And there are challenges with that. I think that it is not a coincidence that bridges must stretch to function, must reach and touch edges and be strong enough to withstand the tension. I am fortunate in that there has been someone here with whom I connect well and can share what it feels like for me to be one bridge between languages. That has been a grace, actually, and though the time has been short, it has been a huge help and a lovely beginning to a friendship I hope continues.
I took the tram home tonight with a group of people after we had visited the mother house for supper. Between the tram and where I am staying, a quartet of us ambled slowly, enjoying the evening life of the plazas in our neighborhood...the musicians serenading those out for an evening meal, the human statues, the vendors, the sounds of languages from all around the world. The moon was nearly full, only adding to the mood. And, it occured to me as we walked and told stories to one another, that there are many ways to be a bridge.
It isn't simply a matter of spanning space y ya, punto. It might be a bridge between languages, but it also might be a bridge between points of view or ways of being... introvert/extrovert, helping someone see a defict as an asset, or any number of points where the desire is for connection... And instead of a fixed span of tension, perhaps it is an invitation--an extension of arms and hands to invite someone to another place, new way of seeing, or simply a different viewing point.
With my head at a certain tilt, it takes little effort to see Jesus as a bridge, actually. A bridge or a point of unity, an invitation to view the world with broader vision, a place to rest on the journey. And Jesus calls me to go and do likewise. To connect when I can, to allow the passing and pausing of others through my life, to use my being-ness in service, and to also enjoy the fish when they tickle my feet and ankles, passing beneath, offering a greeting. Now and then bridges need to be repaired as well, and that is okay. It happens. And who doesn't need reinforcement now and then?
Bridges help. Bridges are important.
Much care goes into the design and building of a bridge... Bridges can be beautiful.