Bridges to Community

Dear Pope Francis,

People live in community with each other all over the place. We have communities at work and school, and if you live in a big enough city there’s a group for enthusiasts of every hobby under the sun. This isn’t even getting started on all the communities available through message boards on the Internet.

Living in community is how we’re meant to be. Despite what Simon and Garfunkel might say, no [hu]man is an island. And even if someone thinks they are, they’re still in the archipelago.

My maternal grandmother has a cottage in Spider Bay. Along the route to the island there’s a couple which are located close together and owned by the same family. Sometime in the distant past when such things were still legal, the owner of the islands built a footbridge across the narrow but not impassable channel between them. (Side note: how do I NOT have a photo of those bridges to illustrate my point?)

Sitting on the dock with my siblings and some of my cousins, 2007

I’ve been thinking a lot about that bridge the last day or two. If the owners didn’t maintain it properly, the bridge would eventually collapse and the two islands wouldn’t be connected anymore. Beyond severing the physical connection of the islands, it would also damage the surrounding eco system with the broken wood and nails which would fall into the lake and be hazard to boaters and the wildlife in the area. If they wanted to rebuild the bridge again, it would take a lot more work because they’d have to do all the cleanup of the old bridge before they could start construction of a new one.

Human communities are the same. With moving home to my parents I’ve been immersed back in to the community of my immediate family. My family is big on reading and board games. The year Rachel was born my mother made my bedtime later than my siblings’ and taught me how to play some of her favourite games. Every night after the others had been put to bed, she and I would sit at the table and play backgammon or cribbage or scrabble. I remember getting whooped most of the time when we played, but I also remember laughing with my Mom and knowing that for that one uninterrupted hour every day – unless Rachel woke up or Dad called – she was mine.

scrabble_boxRachel turned thirteen a couple of weeks ago, and I gave her Scrabble for her birthday so she and I could play together. Mom usually joins us, and she usually wins. But the three of us sit around the table and laugh because BUTT is worth 27 points if you play it in the right spot and butts are funny.

To get back to the bridge metaphor, spending time with my sister in the evenings is part of the regular maintenance needed to keep that bridge safe and intact.

With Lauren being away in Europe for the last couple of weeks, I’ve been lonely for company my own age. This weekend was really good because I met a bunch of new people when I went to work; but the people I’ve been thinking about are the friends from high school who I have on Facebook but haven’t really seen since I left for New Brunswick five years ago.

There hasn’t been anything hugely dramatic to break the bridges apart, but I’ve been deferring the maintenance long enough that it’s going to take some serious work on my part to repair the bridges enough to be able to bear any kind of load.

Being aware of how little attention I’ve paid to these friends since high school makes me nervous about even sending a message announcing that I’ve returned and want to see people. I really haven’t kept in touch, and I’m not even totally sure who is in the area still and who has moved away for careers and family. Frankly, I’m a little worried they all think I’ve become a religious nut since I don’t post much on Facebook except for links to this blog.

Got to start sometime though right?

Rebuilding bridges,


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