Jummah Reflection: I Build Bridges
Jummah Mubarak, Shabbat Shalom & TGIF.
This week I’m thinking about “building bridges” – particularly in an interfaith context. A lot of people use this term to refer to all interfaith activities. But I want to be very clear:
Building bridges is dangerous work.
First, the purpose of a bridge is to traverse a space that would otherwise be impossible because it’s too dangerous. Either a gaping gorge or deep, dark water or some other space that humans are physically incapable of crossing. Not everyone even sees a need to cross chasms like these, but some of us know (even when naysayers try to convince us we are pursuing something foolish) that whatever is on the other side has value and importance.
Before you can even begin to build, you have to convince enough people that it’s a worthwhile endeavor. That ‘over there’ is important enough to take risks for.
The actual work of building bridges begins somewhere DOWN THERE: underground or water where people must risk their lives to build a foundation. You don’t start building a bridge from one side or the other. You start in the middle, at the bottom, where no one else wants to go.
Where very few actually *can* go.
Bridge-building is a long, laborious and expensive process requiring the skilled work of all kinds of people – architects, laborers, and project managers. Sometimes, there are miscalculations – time is lost, money is lost–even lives are lost. Once the foundation is set, you can create pillars and scaffolding to uphold the structure, and finally, you lay the top of the bridge on which anyone can cross over.
At every stage in the process, danger is present. A clear vision of a final structure is needed at all times.
I’ve done all kinds of interfaith work in the last two decades. To be honest, most of it is not bridge building. Most of it is simply crossing over a bridge someone else built. Sometimes we meet in the middle of the bridge for hummus and share stories. This is is also important work and the more people who can do this, the better. The more people who use those bridges, the more value they have.
But I find the greatest satisfaction in the hard, dangerous work of building the bridges themselves. Of going where no one else wants to go, and risking my life (or reputation) on creating foundations that are going to pay off in the long run. I have vision, and I’m a little bit crazy. I was made for this work. This is my purpose. Alhamdolillah.