Building Bridges

“If you are good at building bridges, you will never fall into the abyss!” – Mehmet Murat Ildan

Before the month’s end, Ronald Commons will be fully occupied. After many years of prayerful discernment, discussion, collaborating, planning, construction, construction, and more construction, as many as 260 new neighbors will be living across the parking lot.  Just thinking about it, fills me with so much JOY!

Now our work begins…again.

“What did he say?”

Let me clarify, the church (i.e. the faithful people of Ronald UMC) have been hard at work for years to make this vision a reality, and I pray that many other faith communities will take up similar work.

Housing, food and the services that Compass and Hopelink can provide are basic human needs. We could even argue that food and shelter are basic human rights. However, human beings are also relational creatures.

If left completely alone in the world, very few of us would survive. Monks, gurus and hermits notwithstanding, experiments in  social isolation and solitary confinement had profound effects on some people after only a few hours (e.g. decreased cognition, agitation, hallucinations, etc.)

While numerous scientific studies have shown the health benefits of appropriate physical human contact, it seems clear that most of us were designed to thrive in community. Loneliness can affect sleep patterns, logical and verbal reasoning. While chronically lonely people tend to have higher blood pressure, are more vulnerable to infection, and are also more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

Of course, “loneliness” is not the same as “being alone.” One can be lonely even when  surrounded by people, which is why I am fond the words community and relationship. Common is at the root of community. It implies oneness or shared ownership. As for relationship, I can step into an elevator and “relate” more to the elevator than the humans sharing the ride. Community and relationship require something of us: intention, effort, courage and maybe even sacrifice.

For some of us, it will start with intention: taking a step toward the “other” to say “hello,” to ask a question, to share some part of our story, to begin the beautifully messy work of loving our neighbors, and being loved by them.

Back when we were still talking about the construction, paint colors and the parking lot, I kept saying, “I don’t really care about those things. I care about the people.” For the record, I am now very grateful for the physical “bridge” between the church and Ronald Commons. It suggests so much more than a sidewalk. It’s something we have in common. It’s something we share. It’s an invitation to cross, to meet, to bridge the gap between “me and you” or “us and them.”

So, whether you’re a reading this because you are part of the church, a resident at Ronald Commons, a staff member, volunteer or client at Hopelink, I encourage you to take a trip across the bridge that connects us.

Blessings on all your crossings,

Pastor Kelly

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