Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Thought for the week

WHEN Reading Bridge was closed for two weeks in May it made me think about bridges.

WHEN Reading Bridge was closed for two weeks in May it made me think about bridges.

There is something about a bridge which fascinates us all. Tower Bridge, San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, Sydney Harbour Bridge and many others.

And most of us can remember a special bridge we stood on as a child to watch the water flowing beneath us.

Bridges have played their part in history — two in particular in the Second World War — the Ponte Vecchio Bridge over the Arno River in Florence, which was the only bridge not destroyed there by order of Hitler, and “The Bridge Too Far” at Arnhem. 

There are great bridges of fiction — like Thornton Wilder’s “The Bridge of San Luis Rey”, which records the stories of those who were killed when an Inca rope bridge collapsed in Peru, and other stories of those who, by the luck of the draw or the Hand of Providence, were saved or escaped.

Bridges are often associated with tragedy.  They always remain places of danger.

So we say with worldly wisdom, “never cross a bridge until you come to it”.  Bridges that span a river seem to speak of and symbolise separate worlds that have been joined.

As a priest I can never entirely forget that one of the Latin words for Priest — Pontifex — has the Latin word for bridge at its heart.

Priests are always  challenged to be bridge builders, where there are broken lives and broken  families and gulfs between classes and races. But there is a priest in everyone. To be human is to be a priest in the end or rather in the beginning as we all need to be bridge builders and we have to learn about the “bridge over troubled waters”.

So the building of the third bridge over the River Thames has a particular fascination for me. This is only my personal opinion but I am looking forward to the time when we can all cross over a new third bridge. We all need to be bridge builders — and love can build a bridge.

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