Thursday, September 23, 2010

Hills and Bridges

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.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Stormy Friday

Friday Five: Storms of Life Edition

I'm listening this morning for word of Hurricane Earl. Is he coming to visit, or will he bypass my part of Maine and move further Downeast, or veer toward Nova Scotia? Should I buy those bottles of water, just in case wind brings branches and power lines down? And how many times will the tracking map change today?

Herewith, a Friday Five about the storms of life:

1) What's the most common kind of storm in your neck of the woods?

Nor'Easters. Horizontal rain, wind...

2) When was the last time you dealt with a significant power outage?

During and following the earthquake in Chile this past February. This was accompanied by a water-outage as well. I'll take no power over no water ANY DAY.

3) Are you prepared for the next one?

I know a heck of a lot more about what do do when there's no water than I did before, so yes, I'd have to say I am much more adequately prepared. Bleach is your friend, let me just say. Wonder worker, that. Power outages? Small radio, stash of batteries, sanctuary candles (in glass all the way up, tall, burn forever...), kitchen matches and a coat hanger holder for them to stick them down in pilot light holes or deep candles...add bread, water, fresh fruit and raw veg...yep, basics covered.

4) What's the weather forecast where you are this weekend?

Rain should be coming--will be something of a relief for the heat, actually, though I am sorry it comes because of Earl because of what it will mean for the others who will feel the brunt of it.

5) How do you calm your personal storms?

Ah... I'd a friend, sadly felled recently by a brain tumor, who used to remind me, "There is no problem in this world that sleep will not help." Solve, no, but help, certainly. Also, I am a believer in the utter goodness of massage as a way to re-unify body/psyche--two aspects of myself that sometimes tend to wander their own ways during those storms. Writing helps me as does sitting alone in silence in a space I find comforting. Both the writing and the sitting are part of praying for me, so that too is a part of it. Good friends are a help too. As safe places to bounce things around a bit or as necessary distraction.