Crossing the Swinging Bridge Alone – just another memory
I must have been about 5 years old, because I remember not being able to reach either side of the rope rails on the swinging bridge. My grandmother had crossed before me, telling me to wait. When she got to the other side, she told me to come to her and then she turned her back to me. I think she was crying.
This little endeavor was very dangerous. The swinging bridge was old and unstable. The swing on it was wide and erratic. The river underneath was deep with a rapid current. I was so little…I was so afraid.
At such an early age, all I knew was I had to get to my grandma. If I didn’t get across I would become abandoned and alone forever, or so I thought. I thought about just sitting down and crying until somebody came and got me. But I looked around and there were no other people anywhere. Giving that up, I started across. The first thing I did was try to keep myself from falling off the bridge. The first step caused it to swing fairly strongly. I grabbed one side of the rope railing, but this caused the bridge to swing so hard it knocked me down. I reached for the boards on one edge and hung on until the bridge stopped swinging. Quite a few times I thought I would go over the edge. But finally, the swinging stopped. I gently moved to the center having learned my lesson. Staying in the center with nothing to hold on to was terrifying, even on my hands and knees. The slightest wind rocked the bridge. I thought about crawling across, but the boards hurt my knees. I got to my feet and began taking tentative steps toward my grandmother. I felt so abandoned, watching her with her back to me. I couldn’t understand why she didn’t come and get me so I could arrive on the other side safely.
Little did I know this was an early part of Medicine training. When I was very young, probably as soon as I had some sort of command of language, I apparently talked about conversations and communications with the so-called “unseen world”. The world of ghosts, spirits, angels (or “helpers” as we called them), faeries, elves (or “little people”), sprites, and the innumerable other kinds of “unseen world” beings. This very fact is what caused the “swinging bridge” to be one of my tests.
I’m told that many are born with the abilities for medicine, and they are always tested to see if they have the qualities to carry forth the training and practice. I evidently proved my worthiness. I believe my greatest asset was the ability to stay focused no matter what. I seemed to have lost the focus when I grew up. I remember later in “Medicine training” I complained that I couldn’t stay in a state of “prayer” because there was too much noise and distraction in my home and neighborhood. My “teacher” looked at me sternly and replied: “You will never be doing the healing work in a place of serenity, people get sick and injured in the middle of chaos. Start practicing!”. Sigh…and I did…
I have remembered this incident many times. Sometimes, I think I was brave because of inorance…I didn’t know how dangerous life could get. I am much less brave in my old age.