Carol A. Hand
Oddly, I referenced bridges in yesterday’s post but I didn’t really comment about the importance of the metaphor they represent in my life experiences. Born of parents from different ancestries – Ojibwe and Anglo American – I needed to learn to span different cultures, socio-economic classes, and spiritual beliefs. Often in the past, it wasn’t easy to figure out where I fit.
Photo: Blatnik Bridge – View of Duluth, MN from Superior, WI by Ryansinn Photography
There was a time not too long ago when I described the liminal space between cultures – and bridges as a culture-spanning metaphor – in the following way.
“Rupert Ross (1992) observed, “When you try to be a bridge between two cultures, you should expect to get walked over by some people from both sides.” (Dancing with a ghost: Exploring Indian realities, p. xx). This is true from my experience, but not the most difficult challenge to overcome. Because I was in-between, I had to learn to listen and observe others intensely to try to understand who they were and what was important to them. Not surprisingly, this often meant I learned to bridge many differences. Because I learned how to stand up against abuse, I was most interested in working with people whose experiences were in some ways similar to mine. By watching and listening to people from many different cultures, I became increasingly aware of the larger structural issues that underlay their shared oppression. But to be an observer who also sees a broader context is a space of distance that prevents one from really ever just “being” with people.” (Living in the Space Between Cultures, posted on Jeff Nguyen’s blog, Deconstructing Myths)
As a result of taking the risk to share my thoughts and experiences on my blog, I’ve met many friends who understand what it feels like to be different. Some have presented alternative ways of viewing the freedom of difference. Part of Diane Lefer’s comment on the above post gave me a new way to envision possibilities.
“… I wish instead of being a bridge to be walked on, you can be a bird, able to alight on any side of any boundary and then go back to watching from above as you fly.” (Diane Lefer, 2014)
This morning, Silvia di Blasio’s profound and eloquent post offered another perspective.
“There are places in this world that act as portals. Places where we find our tribe, even if for a short moment in time, tell us we are not alone, show a mirror where we can see our own truth … the wound just cracked open and the crying won’t stop until a decision is made: going back where I belong” (Silvia di Blasio, 2015)
Woven together, these images and metaphors inspired a morning poem.
I meet the members of my tribe for precious brief moments
In the center of high bridges
Suspended between earth and sky
Connecting lands that only appear separate and different
We need to learn to look deeply enough
To see that we’re all really connected
With the earth and sky, and with each other
Otherwise our loneliness is too much to bear
Sometimes we dance and blend our voices in song
And sometimes we travel together for awhile
Working our collective magic to rebuild caring communities
That still may never really feel like our own
Buffeted by the winds of change
In our solitary vantage points
We learn to treasure memories
Of the truth of oneness, communion, and home
At this stage of my life, I realize that I can find members of my tribe everywhere if I look deeply enough. I send blessings to all of my relations, but today, especially to those who sometimes feel alone…
Rupert Ross (1992). Dancing with a ghost: Exploring Indian reality. Markham, ON, CA: Octopus Publishing Group.
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