When I was in High School, The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder was required reading. The narrative, set in 1714 Peru, is about the collapse of an Inca rope-fibre suspension bridge that led to the death of five unrelated people. A friar, who witnessed the tragedy, learns about the victims hoping to find a reason for their deaths. The novel won the Pulitzer Prize in 1928.
My Dad passed away last year. I miss him at the family get-togethers, our telephone discussions, our trips to the book store, and our animated debates. Even as I grieve, I remember his amazing life that spanned 85 years. Anyone who knew my Dad recognized his enthusiasm for knowledge exchange and building sustainable communities. His greatest joy was young people. He believed in their ability to lead our world in the difficult times that lay ahead and readily placed his trust in their hands.
As we grow older, it is not easy to pass the torch onto the next generation. And yet, that is what we all must do in the end. In our existence, we mingle joy and loss in the same breath. This is a shared connection that links us to past and future generations. For me, that is reason to hope.
“We ourselves shall be loved for awhile and forgotten.
But the love will have been enough; all those impulses
of love return to the love that made them. Even memory is not necessary for love. There is a land of the living and a land of the dead and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning.”
Thornton Wilder, The Bridge of San Luis Rey