Bridges. I love bridges. There is something inherently beautiful about these structures that are designed to connect people and places. Over years of traveling the world, I have crossed some of the most beautiful bridges on the planet. I have also cautiously ventured across more than my share of rickety old bridges.
The word bridge is important in our vocabulary. It’s the word we use when we talk about making connections or working toward reconciliation with others. We’ve all heard the admonition to “not burn our bridges.” And, when we advise someone to deal with a problem only when and if it arises, we often tell them to “cross that bridge when you come to it.” That’s good advice!
Building bridges is the antithesis of building walls. Walls tend to separate and protect. I have visited the Great Wall of China almost a dozen times. It’s impressive. The Chinese built the Great Wall to keep the Mongol hordes and other invaders at bay. Imagine if some ancient culture had built a great bridge — a lasting structure designed to bring people together.
Our world needs more bridges — the kind of bridges that can connect us to those who are different from us and that span the deep chasms of prejudice that divide and separate people. A bridge is a symbol of peace, an invitation for people to move toward one another in the hope of cultivating deeper understanding and more wholesome and charitable views about one another.
Building and crossing bridges is important. Doing so connects people who are separated by geographical and cultural distances that can lead to prejudice fueled by misinformation. Because of the diaspora of nations among us, it is more important than ever that Christ-followers build cultural bridges of love and understanding that will enable them to connect with neighbors who hail from the four corners of the planet.
I have thought a lot about bridges today. As Cheryl and I continue our Texas road trip, we traveled to the Regency Bridge. This beautiful bridge spans a remote section of the Colorado River on the Mills-San Saba County line. Of the more than 52,000 bridges in the Lone Star State, the Regency Bridge is the last suspension bridge in Texas that is open to automobile traffic. I’m glad that we took the time to find and drive across this bridge.
Built in 1939, the Regency Bridge continues to serve ranchers and farmers who live in the area. The bridge no longer gets much traffic because it has been bypassed by newer paved farm to market roads. Even so, it continues to do what bridges are designed to do — to give people access to people and places that would otherwise remain divided. May we always look for ways to build bridges that span the things that separate us from others. And, like the Regency Bridge, may these bridges outlast us.