Bridge over troubled water

Over the past several years my brother and sister have had challenges in their relationship. They used to work together in my brother’s business. When they decided to go their separate ways in business, so, too did their personal relationship.

As their sister and loving both, for me this has been painful to watch. My family role over the years has typically been the mediator so during the initial separation time I served in that way. Although I didn’t ask to be involved, it was only natural that each would seek my opinion. Needless to say, that was a no-win for me since it was easy to perceive my statements as taking the side of the other. Although I accepted this position unquestioningly given my family role, I was the collateral damage, at least vis-à-vis my brother’s feelings toward me.

The last three years have been a roller coaster journey mostly with my sister and I feeling that my brother has been upset with both of us – with her for the business reasons that spilled into personal, and with me for, from his perspective, taking her side (which he concluded since I would try to get him to see her point of view.) As each year and family get-together occurred, we would see gradual warming in his relationships, first with me and gradually with her. And yet, trust cannot be easily rebuilt, especially in situations that were tenuous to start.

Fast forward to now. My sister was presented with an opportunity to teach karate for a 6 week session at a school where she had taught last year. This year she reached out to my brother to co-teach there. Given what went down emotionally for her, being able to ask my brother to do this is nothing short of a miraculous healing for she was so wounded by the breakdown of their relationship. Up there with amazing was that my brother said yes. Still up there have been the past three weeks of them teaching together and not only getting along, but actually having meaningful conversation. (Graduation) capping it off was last weekend as they both celebrated together their children’s graduations from college in Vermont. This week at their time together they were even able to process through unemotional discussion the very issues that drove them apart three years ago.

You may not see God in this, right? Would it help if I told you the name of the school that they are collaborating their efforts at, and the one they will be working to build an ongoing program at next fall is called “Keystone”? The keystone in architecture is the stone that holds an arch together, the one that brings two opposed sides together and keeps them connected at the top. The keystone allows the arch to bear weight. It completes the intended structure. Coincidence?

When relationships are broken, it is often hard to see HaShem in it at all. And the brokenness seems to go on forever. Those affected, directly or indirectly, don’t know what to say or do, how to act with each other. Our human efforts so often seem to fall on deaf ears. And yet, if we persist in our efforts, if we don’t give up on each other and on the human spirit’s amazing capacity to love and be loved, if we stand up for truth, and good, despite the consequences, how our Abba blesses us.

Restoration of relationships is one of the most beautiful parts of life. I encourage you to not give up on those you find challenging, for clearly HaShem is in it with you stealthily supporting the bridges we choose to build.

Shabbat shalom.

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