The Beauty of the Bridge

Sep 06, 2021

I recently had the pleasure of working with colleagues on the theme of “Bridge Building” as task of a teacher / parent. We came across the story of the Peruvian Incas that still keep an ancient tradition alive in the building and raising of grass bridges across great ravines in the Andes. This story has become one of my favourites, for although it speaks of tradition and custom, hidden within it lie many truths and lessons for us today. It will keep teaching us the more we ponder on its message.

High in the mountains of the Peruvian Andes live communities whose ancestors were the Incas. Each year they celebrate an ancient tradition of bridge raising. This tradition allowed the ancient Incan communities, often isolated from each other, to connect with each other and to the outside world as a whole. This connection ensured their success and survival.

When it is time to build the new bridge the master builder in the community calls everyone together and before they embark on the raising of the bridge each member of the community is reminded of the role they are called to play. Often this role is inherited and passed down from parent to child. Although everyone is quite aware of their role they allow themselves to be reminded of their great responsibility and privilege.

A special type of grass is harvested from a very specific altitude high in the mountains. Harvesting of the grass occurs at just the right time to ensure its durability and strength. It is gathered together and pounded then wet and woven into thin ropes. Meters and meters of rope. These ropes are gathered together and then twisted into longer and thicker ropes many many meters in length. When all the ropes have been prepared they are transported to the site of the bridge. On either side of the ravine the two communities work together. They use the old bridge to lay the foundations of the new bridge. Once the foundation ropes are all in place the old bridge is released into the river below. The communities on either side pull against each other to create just the right amount of tension in the ropes to ensure the safety and strength of the new bridge. Once this has been done, craftsmen from each side begin to weave the sides of the bridge with thinner grass ropes. The bridge is considered complete when the craftsmen meet in the middle. It is said that it would take many years for one person to build the bridge but it takes a community just 3 days. There is much celebrating and feasting when the new bridge is complete. It is the duty of the children and the elders to recall and tell the courageous stories of the bridge raising.

As we embark on a new school year amidst uncertain times, we have before us many opportunities to not only teach the children and share with them some meaningful content but to help our children to become bridge builders in the modern world. To find and make the connections necessary for their mental, physical and spiritual wellbeing, to build bridges that will help them to connect to family and community and other aspects of life we hold sacred. I would like to wish all of the teachers and families at Seasons of Seven great strength and courage as we embark on the adventure that every new school year holds. 

~Mrs. Bridgette Siepker

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