As far back as I can remember I’ve had a magnetic fascination with bridges. The ability to float steal and cement roads through the air, over water, and amidst the clouds has always seemed magical to me. I’ve always marveled at the human beings’ imagination that refuses to be stopped by rivers, bays, oceans, and other treacherous obstacles. In a way, bridges scream to all of the world that we will not be held back. I’ve also found the unifying nature of bridges compelling. They bring two once distant places together by bridging a gap between cities, cultures, economies, environments, and people. For all of their interesting symbolism and eye catching architecture, there is one type of bridge that I find most inspiring, the suspension bridge.
A suspension bridge is a style of bridge that actually hangs its roadway in mid-air by a series of cables and chords. These cables and chords are suspended and anchored to a number of towers that hold up the roadway and keep the vehicles and their drives from falling into the depths below. In a sense it’s like what happens when you hang your shirts and pants to dry on a clothes-line. The line supports the weight of the wet clothes, and the line is tethered to some sort of anchor. The worlds most recognizable suspension bridge is most certainly the iconic Golden Gate Bridge for it’s architectural beauty and symbolic history.
What I find so inspiring about suspension bridges is that the entire weight of the structure rests on the towers, whose arms stretch out like branches of oaks, ornately decorated like a Christmas tree, holding up a countless number of commuters who never know that their life is being cradled by the suspended steal above their cars. Every day thousands of people drive over the roadway never fully knowing that they are hanging in empty space, supported by two fierce towers. They walk, drive, and bike across the span never fully appreciating the work of the spires that hold everything together. An unfathomable weight of trucks, vans, and people are forever lifted up by the endless strength of the suspension towers as they stand their ground and reach into the sky like a mighty mountain holding fast through any storm.
In a way I am reminded of the character of God when I think about suspension bridges. Everyday I walk through life and forget to reflect on Him who holds all things together. I often find myself like the monday morning commuter, focused on my tired tasks of the day, never pausing to look up into the sky and soak in the miracle of floating, that is life. Isn’t it amazing how every single car, bike, or truck that crosses a suspension bridge is held up by the bridges’ towers, mostly thankless for the support they provide? I wonder how many of us go through life never understanding this. I wonder how many of us will never look up and marvel at the majestic beauty and strength of the suspension towers that hold our lives together. He holds us up. His strength gets us where we need to go.
Not only are the towers themselves reflective of Gods strength and provision in our lives, I think they are a model for us to follow. I admire more than anyone else the people in life who give themselves to others even when gratitude for their sacrifice is never offered. Mothers, fathers, firefighters, pastors, doctors, and teachers are all illustrations of the thankless support that is personified in the towers of a suspension bridge. They hold us up. Their strength gets us to where we need to go. I want to be like them. I want to know what it’s like to stand tall and strong, providing a path for others with no need for recognition. I want to be walked on, driven through, and ignored. I want to endure wind, rain, cold, and loneliness for the sake of others. I want to be like those suspension towers, always giving, never taking.