Bridging the Divide: Translating Between Dialects, Cultural Contexts, and Heart Stirring


I have had a variety of life experiences which I believe both prepared me for and called me the work of bridge-building and my role as social translator. As I age I see the call continue to unfold, deepen and widen the scope of what this work means and how I can be useful in the pursuit of social, emotional, and spiritual architecture that can sustain all sides, hold the tensions between divergent places, and find compassion even for the most alienating person or belief system.

One of the most valuable lessons I have learned as a therapist is that "hurting comes from hurt." People who are wounded or broken or fragmented in some way, who cannot live out the wholeness that is the call of their life, shave the world down to lens that fits their own frustration, making a personal idol, rather than a transcendent divinity, the center of their holiness.

One of the most valuable lessons I have learned from my own personal suffering is that "if you don't work through it, it will work through you." This can leave a life in shambles; we become mausoleums for our own sacred woundedness, and we begin to become like ancient sediment, stuck on the ground where we have fallen, rather than rising and walking to a new and healed place. I spent many years, suffering internally, learning that the hard way.

One of the most valuable lessons I have learned from mysticism, both Christian and others is that "I don't have to love what you think to love who you are, at the seat of your soul, in that sacred place where our hearts become entwined, like roots of the same sacred tree." Mysticism and contemplative practice taught me that the greatest battle I had to fight, daily, was the one with my own ego which was always fighting to be right and prove every other way was wrong.

One of the most valuable lessons I have learned as a yoga teacher is that "in the silence of breath and movement we are all equal, we are all together."  It reminds me that even with the differences in thoughts and word and deed, when it comes down to it, we all breathe the same divine breath of live, and we all give life the breath of the person next to us, we are interdependent at our very core, even with those people we most vehemently disagree.

One of the most valuable lessons I have learned as an adoptee is that "who I am besides the color of my skin, or the accent in my voice, or the perceptions you have of me [good, bad, or equal] is defined by who I love and who has loved me, I am the sum of all the fractals of light and love that have entered into my world." It reminds me though I am culturally non-native American & British, racially Spanish and Indigenous, socially whatever people perceive me to be that day [all of the or none of the above depending on the day] and however they grade me based on their assessment, that I am all of it, and I can hold and retain that space between cultural and racial places because those that have loved me have told me, without saying, that everything I am is ok.

One of the most valuable lessons I have learned as a person under forty is that "I am [sometimes] wiser [and older] than you think I am but still naive enough to believe that all things I dream are possible."  Even though I look twelve, sometimes act like a preschooler, and can be overly wound up, I am also full of, as of yet, unmet potential, and carry with me the ingredients the infect those around me with my particular recipe for hope. Those under forty have the capacity to move the world with a quaking and deafening roar. We have the potential to be Lazarus of faith--resurrecting hope in this time and place.

One of the most valuable lessons I have learned from meeting, daily, those who have survived war [as warriors, as bystanders, as victims] is that "war can be survived, but it damages the soul in a catastrophic way." It reminds me to respect the fragility of life and the tenderness of the soul. It reminds me that every time we wage war, against ourselves, against those who believe differently than we do, against those we cannot forgive, we begin to tear the tissue of spiritual organ called "soul." It reminds me that we must bring our righteousness with kindness, and our justice with compassion; if we do not we can tear the world down with the very tools we have been using to try to build it up.

One of the most valuable lessons I have learned as a single drop in the pool of humanity is that "forgiveness is one of the most elemental components to healthy balance in life, in activism, in contemplation, in justice, in living." When we do not or cannot forgive we tear our own heart asunder and leave only ruins of what once was a life fully lived. Unforgiveness are the shackles, the chains, and the ropes that bind us in one place, static and stoic, unable to move forward and live with others with love and not hate in our hearts.

We cannot sustain this polarized world we currently live in. Our hearts can't sustain it. Our minds can't sustain it. Our souls can't sustain it. Our bodies can't sustain it. Our communities can't sustain it. Our nation can't sustain it. Our globe can't sustain it.

We will atrophy, we will die. We will be dry bones without any love or life. We will be the un-resurrected walking dead. We will live without really living.

Everything I have culled thus far from a life crookedly lived has shown be both the promise of death and the promise of resurrection; it all depends on the way I hold the tension between places by building bridges or blowing them up.

I have lived in the land of the dead and I have sunk into the dust of my own dry bones. I have hated and raged against all and anything that did not fit my rigid sense of "right." I have torn the ligaments that encase my soul, that spiritual organ at the seat of my self, each time I stepped further away from anything and everything I saw as "other" or "enemy" or "bad."

I have also been rebuilt out of the ashes and wreckage of my hate. I have let go of those that bound me in one place, and in turn, let go of the hold their memories had over me. I have found a way to not just build the bridges but embody them, and I have learned to use all the permutations of my self to become the midway point between two places: sacred and secular, older and younger, dark and light, wounded and healer, contemplative and action, privileged and marginalized, religious and sacredly wounded.

My prayer, my hope, my aspiration is that we all learn to live in the tension, and learn how to not just walk the bridges but become them. I pray that we can all learn to build on the ashes of dry bones, before we turn to the dust made by embittered rage and hateful hearts. We have the capacity to do both, even in our salvation and our destruction we have been given all the tools to do both well.

Let us resurrect our world, together. I know that we can. I have seen the evidence of this in the everyday miracles of people letting go of hate to find love. Let us resurrect this world. Let us bring those dry bones to life.
**This post is part of a syncroblogging series on "bridging the divide"; follow the link for the rest of the bloggers' posts who are participating. Full list available on April 23, 2014.**

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