A bridge in the woods demonstrates a great deal of generosity and faith. There is no reason to build it unless you believe someone will come along to use it. Constructing a bridge in the middle of a shady wood, far from the roads, requires difficult labour. So why build it for strangers who might wander by? I have to believe that its carpenters were good-hearted and wanted to leave a silent legacy of kindness. Why else would they toil among the bugs and humidity, or worse rain, for my benefit? Me, the mysterious person who hikes through the woods and sits on the side of the bridge to eat a pear.
So I began this narrative of your life. You were a group of adventurers who weaved in and out of the Niagara Escarpment on the weekends. When you reached water you trudged through because as your leader said, “no river can stop us when we work together.” In this way you covered the hundreds of kilometers between the Falls and the Bay. One day you reached my town. It seemed simple enough with its lime kilns and lack of sprawl. I imagine you thought this was just another meaningless stop on your endless journey. I wonder if you could go back to that day if you might have turned down another Sideroad to avoid the creek, but there you were standing in a farmer’s fallow field. As you reached the tree line you could just hear the water ahead. “Oh just another stream to cross,” shouted your leader. You cut through the broken fence and stopped at the edge of the creek. Then something unexpected happen, a sudden thirst perhaps, and one of you bent down to drink the water. In that moment, as the clouds drifted above the treetops, the squirrels dashed from root to bush, the flies hovered, and the water passed between her lips, everything changed. Your group was stuck. The location was no longer a blur of trees and water, but the most significant place you had ever been. You also realized that if you didn’t act no one else would enjoy this place. After all, why would anyone come here if they couldn’t cross the creek as you do. In the following days you carried wood and built. You hammered and cut the wood for a magnificent bridge. You made it possible for many others to come and cross and experience the moment just as you did that first day. Here I am.