Saturday, August 4, 2007

Bridges



Thursday I had meetings and a hospital visit on the other side of town. So I got on the highways, including the one where the bridge failed, but didn't get too close to ground zero.


It seemed like traffic was a little light. I had heard that many people were just staying away. As I drove, I became aware of how many bridges I drove over and under almost every day.


As I drove underneath one, I caught myself looking up, and thinking, are there any cracks? How does it look? Does it look all right?


It's a wonder how we go through our lives every day, never even thinking about the things that hold us up, that keep us going -- most of the time. We live our lives trusting -- that roads will not crumble beneath us, that buildings will not fall on us, that people will stop and go and yield the right of way when they are supposed to. We don't pay attention, until something happens.


As I drove, I listened to the radio. It was all about the bridge disaster, about acts of heroism, about dazed victims, about cars still submerged and shared uncertainty. It was about whether we were adequately warned that this might happen. It was about who to blame, or who not to blame.


I switched the station for a moment to the local progressive talk radio station. I haven't been listening lately, but I thought I'd tune in, thinking the host might weigh in.

It turns out he had on a conservative guru, and they were arguing about taxes. The conservative was saying that if we had more privately owned bridges, we'd do better. The talk show host was saying that perhaps it was wrong to make a profit from roads. He kept saying, "All of you guys think..."


I switched back. I'm tired of ideologues -- right and left. I'm tired of people building walls instead of bridges, and refusing to find ways to solve problems. I'm tired of posturing. I'm looking for someone with humility, someone willing to look up, see the cracks, share the uncertainty.


I was looking through the church bulletin yesterday, and happened to notice that our closing hymn is "How Firm a Foundation." Ironic. It was chosen back at the end of May. I wonder who will think about the foundations that have crumbled recently. I wonder who will think about all the things and people and ideas we trust, usually without thinking.

We're also having a baptism on Sunday. Another child will pass through the waters of baptism, will receive the promise of Jesus' life with, in and for her. There's the firm foundation -- in the promise of God, in the waters of baptism. But God doesn't promise her, or us, an easy life. God doesn't protect us from danger. Instead, God's promise gives us courage to risk our lives and face our death. God's promise gives us courage to put down our gods, to change our minds, to work for our neighbor's good. God's promise can help us to build bridges instead of walls.


How firm a foundation, O saints of the Lord
Is laid for your faith in his excellent Word.
What more can he say that to you he has said
Who unto the Savior for refuge have fled.

Throughout all their lifetime my people shall prove
My sov'reign, eternal, unchangeable love;
And then, when gray hairs shall their temple adorn,
Like lambs they shall still in my bosom be borne.

Gracious God, by our words and our actions in these days when foundations crumble, may your people be living proof of your undying love. AMEN

16 comments:

DogBlogger said...

Amen.

Marsha said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Marsha said...

You said:

"I'm tired of ideologues -- right and left. I'm tired of people building walls instead of bridges, and refusing to find ways to solve problems. I'm tired of posturing. I'm looking for someone with humility, someone willing to look up, see the cracks, share the uncertainty."

Thank you for stating so clearly what I have been saying for years.

Diane said...

which is not to say I don't lean in a certain way myself.

Rowan The Dog said...

Diane,

I have been wondering about you, your family, and your congregation... how this will all feel in a week, a month, a year.

When the ground underneath you moves it opens up a profound gap between the way things really are supposed to be and the undeniable things are.

Continuing to hold you and your city before God in prayer,

Lindy

Grandmère Mimi said...

Our only security is in Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. All else is fragile.

That does not mean that we have no part in the drama, but there is no certainty in life, no guarantee that we will draw the next breath.

Thanks for the reminder of the words from the hymn. They apply every single day.

I'm tired of idealogues, too.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Our only security is in Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. All else is fragile.

That does not mean that we have no part in the drama, but there are few certainties in this life, no guarantee that we will draw the next breath.

Thanks for the reminder of the words from the hymn. They apply every single day.

I'm tired of idealogues, too.

Barbara B. said...

wonderful, thoughtful post... continuing to hold you all in my prayers

Kievas said...

Thanks for your encouragement to build bridges instead of walls.

Jan said...

Thanks for so honestly posting. It would be eery to be on the same road as ground zero. I remember when I was a little girl, I heard about the Tacoma Narrows bridge falling down, and so I was afraid of driving over bridges for years and years. "How firm a foundation" is a good thought to remember, even as the earth quakes and fear abounds. Thank you.

mompriest said...

The grace and synchronicity of life, that somehow this hymn was scheduled for this Sunday. I mean, I don't know how it happens, but life is like that sometimes. Couldn't be a better choice to sing as you all lift up the lives of those who have died, those who live, and those who are finding new life.

"PS" said...

It is the material foundations that at some point will give away. They are finite just as we are. That which is infinite, the Holy One, is the foundation that will support all of life with all that life gives us. Your post spoke of the deep foundations that we all have, that we all seek, and that sometimes we forget that we do have.

lj said...

Diane, This is lovely, as usual. And I love that hymn.

Your post reminded me of a John Calvin writing I remember from seminary (but am not going to take the time to look up) where he writes that every day when we walk down the street and have the good fortune of not having a brick fall on our head and kills us, we should rejoice in the goodness of God and live in gratitude. That funny guy.

(Of course, the quote begs the question of those who do get killed and this is where he backed himself into a corner with all his double predestination nonsense ... but that is more than I can handle in this comment).

Diane said...

yeah, I've never gotten double-predestination, although Luther is not exactly innocent...

but pre-destination, or election... one of the best stories that describes this in a gracious/positive way is Katherine Paterson's novel Jacob Have I Loved.
She doesn't skirt the problems either.

Serena said...

Amen! I'm tired of ideologues too! And, continuing to hold you and your community in prayer.

revabi said...

I got a call from my brother that he was okay too. Glad to hear you are okay. I bet this is a scary time for those driving on bridges and under.

But I liked how you brought that to our relationship with God. Very good food for thought.