Nov 2 / Jen Macnab
How often do we find ourselves in a "sides" situation? The current season is an example. Regardless of which "side" you embrace, you will likely encounter someone who resides on the other "side."

So, how do you engage?

I recently heard a helpful story about bridging the divide.[1] Interestingly, it had to do with the history of a Niagara Falls suspension bridge.

Now let's be clear; it wasn't a ploy for pushing people toward the same "side." Instead, it was a matter of establishing a path for connection with those in the other community.

As we know, Niagara Falls flows between two lands: the US and Canada. Furthermore, in the mid-1800s, they wanted to build a suspension bridge to connect the two sides. Be that as it may, they had to figure out how to get one line across the falls to begin the bridge construction.

How to reach the other side?

With this question in mind, the builders considered many ideas:

firing cannonballs (with a line attached) from one side to another,

placing the line on a steamer and towing it across, or

flying a kite across with the cord attached.

Ultimately, they went with the kite approach. In fact, it was a 16-year-old kid who successfully flew his kite across the gorge with the line attached!

In sum, it was a young boy who connected two countries with a kite. We can learn a lot from kids.

But what else could we learn from witnesses of this historical feat?

The Child: Can you imagine being the kite-flying kid who had all the confidence in the world that he was the one? "I studied reading the wind, calculating the lift, gauging line length... One winter day the wind called to me." [2]

When the timing was right, the boy laid the line to link the lands.

The Wind: Although we don't typically see the wind, we regularly see and feel the power of its presence. After all, it was the gentle, patient spirit of the wind that elevated the delicate kite and carried the line over the abyss.

A hurricane just wouldn't have worked.

The Water: It experiences space and time differently. Truly, water flows over the earth, rises to the sky (which touches the ground), and carries history in its compounds. In the Niagara Falls narrative, the water maintained an entirely different vantage point- an incredibly valuable insight for us as we contemplate "sides."

You see, as the water flowed over the land, it knew that deep below the surface, the two land "sides" were actually just one continuous landmass.

As it turned out, the divide was just an illusion of separation, a construct held by the on-shore observer.

Although we may engage this "season of sides" from one shore, we can still embrace the hopefulness of The Child, the gentle and patient spirit of The Wind, and the wisdom of the Life-Giving Water.

1 Thank you, Dr. Leonard Sweet, for bestowing the Niagara Falls story as a narraphor for approaching the divide.
2 O'Neill, Alexis & Terry Widener. The Kite That Bridged Two Nations. Calkins Creek, 2013.

Jen Macnab

Jen Macnab enjoys living in Tigard with her husband and two daughters. Together they keep busy with a garden, outdoor clothesline, and backyard chickens. Jen also serves with the Seminary Doctoral Programs at Portland Seminary.