Tag: police

Let me build a bridge, for I cannot fill the chasm…


The poet of my youth was one Gordon Sumner, aka Sting. The first concert I ever went to was Dream of the Blue Turtles, his debut solo album. A bit odd for a kid my age as all my other friends went to the Journey, AC/DC and KISS concerts, and I loved all that music too, but my  teen and young adult heart was drawn to the Billy Joels, the Elton Johns, the James Taylors and the Stings of the music world.

When we are young, suffering through unrequited love and longing and trying to figure out who we are, the songs of our youth have a different meaning. They apply in different ways. What I now feel is the true test of a great song is if that song can grow along with you, gaining alternate meaning as you (hopefully) gain wisdom and understanding.

When I first heard Fortress Around Your Heart, my thoughts were fixed on unrequited teenage love and angst. I wanted to build a bridge to some girl’s heart that I had a crush on and well let’s just say I am thankful that bridge was never built, but you couldn’t have told me that at the time! (hormones are an amazing elixir!) At the time, Sumner’s lyrics acted on my young wounded heart as both salt and salve.

It was only later that I realized I didn’t really get the intended meaning of the song at all. 

Here is what Sting himself says about it and let me share the lyrics, before I resume: 

“Fortress’ is about appeasement, about trying to bridge the gaps between individuals. The central image is a minefield that you’ve laid around this other person to try and protect them. Then you realise that you have to walk back through it. I think it’s one of the best choruses I’ve ever written.” Sting

Under the ruins of a walled city
Crumbling towers in beams of yellow light.
No flags of truce, no cries of pity;
The siege guns had been pounding through the night.
It took a day to build the city.
We walked through its streets in the afternoon.
As I returned across the fields I’d known,
I recognized the walls that I once made.
Had to stop in my tracks for fear of walking on the mines I’d laid.

And if I’ve built this fortress around your heart,
Encircled you in trenches and barbed wire,
Then let me build a bridge, for I cannot fill the chasm,
And let me set the battlements on fire.

Then I went off the fight some battle that I’d invented inside my head.
Away so long for years and years,
You probably thought or even wished that I was dead.
While the armies are all sleeping beneath the tattered flag we’d made.
I had to stop in my tracks for fear of walking on the mines I’d laid.

And if I’ve built this fortress around your heart,
Encircled you in trenches and barbed wire,
Then let me build a bridge, for I cannot fill the chasm,
And let me set the battlements on fire.

This prison has now become your home,
A sentence you seem prepared to pay.
It took a day to build the city.
We walked through its streets in the afternoon.
As I returned across the fields I’d known,
I recognized the walls that I once made.
Had to stop in my tracks for fear of walking on the mines I’d laid.

And if I’ve built this fortress around your heart,
Encircled you in trenches and barbed wire,
Then let me build a bridge, for I cannot fill the chasm,
And let me set the battlements on fire.

Songwriter: Gordon Sumner
Fortress Around Your Heart lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

Have you ever sought to reconcile with someone, someone who you encircled in trenches and barbed wire, setting them aside, building in distance and letting time and / or physical and / or emotional distance create a chasm between you? 

We probably all do this every day to some degree with various people? Often, this is only a natural outgrowth of the changing seasons of life or bandwidth, but sometimes it is deeper than that. Sometimes, we are a full-on intentional construction crew separating ourselves from one another on purpose.

Inevitably, just as the poet shares with us, right after we build up the battlements around ourselves and the other, we go off and fight some battle we invent inside our heads. We fill our thoughts with all of these things that may or may not be true about the other person in the gap of time since we were last close to them.

“They probably (think) or even wish that I was dead”…

…is a poignant representation of those kinds of thoughts. In the end, this only makes the chasm deeper, the battlements sturdier and the barbed wire sharper.

This fear of what the other is thinking, this damage that we do by cutting the ties that bind us, however tenuous, creates a condition where, over time, there are no flags of truce, there are no cries of pity, the armies all just lay there sleeping and we know we have a mind field to walk through to get back to that person.

This dynamic keeps people away, sometimes forever. If they do reconcile, it is painful and treacherous as they navigate the mines they laid down with sparse, misconstrued or a vaccum of communication in the intervening timeframe.

What does this mean for us? What can and should we do about it? Is reconciliation always right? I am not sure full reconciliation is always right and I am not sure you have to build a bridge with every person you ever built battlements around? Sometimes, the risk is real, but the key is to make sure we haven’t simply convinced ourselves the risk is authentic. The trick is to make sure we are not inventing battles inside our heads to avoid the discomfort of walking on the mines we’ve laid.

However, I would challenge you to be careful about how many people you keep in the fortress. I would ask that you scan the horizon and look for all the keeps, moats, fortresses and chasms that are in the landscape of your life. I would share that when I did this I found several bridges that needed rebuilding and it was hard work. I had to walk through those #$@!% mines I’d laid with several people…and it was some of the scariest stuff I have ever done. Yet, in hindsight, just like our invented battles, I realized the fear and my prediction of the number of mines I found waiting for me, was nothing like what I actually encountered. In each case, I found walking back to be much easier than I ever allowed myself to believe.

If it was so scary, you might ask, why do it? Isn’t life easier when we keep our distance? I have found that that is a deception. It can feel easier in the short run, and I think that is what gave birth to Sting’s epic song and many of our wall building endeavors.

I did it because of these reasons and because of what I learned about this Jesus guy, Who taught me to love one another not as I would love myself but as He loved me. That told me that I didn’t get to keep the battlements up where they were no longer necessary. That taught me to build bridges and I did, and I learned that I not only freed the people I sought to reconcile with from the barbed wire, but I freed myself.

I saw this video meme the other day of these two bucks who had locked horns over barbed wire, you can probably guess the result, neither one was spared the barbs and the harder they fought to separate from each other the tighter the wire became, until some brave farmers with wire cutters came and cut them free. I believe that Jesus has the wire cutters if you let him approach.

You may not believe what I do and that is okay, but I ask you to consider, whether it is Jesus with the wire cutters or you, shouldn’t you start clearing out the barbed wire? Are there people in your life that you have let grow far from you, who may have hurt you or you- them, that you should reconcile with? Forgiveness doesn’t mean you put yourself in harm’s way and it doesn’t have to be accomplished all in one day. Sometimes we have to start removing the battlements one brick at a time. Sometimes we have to approach gingerly at first, like the farmers trying to free the bucks.

What does that look like? Well, I’ve used several techniques. Sometimes it is a simple text or sharing a funny meme. Sometimes it is a paper letter or card, delivered through the mail, to keep the back and forth of the bucks’ thrashing horns at bay until God can get close enough with the clippers. Sometimes it is calling the person on the phone.

Whatever it is take a step. Do your scan and pick one fortress and take down one brick. I want you to soar and I know that you can’t do it any more than those bucks can, while you are tangled in the barbed wire of your grievances with one another.

Do one small thing today to build the bridge, light the match that sets the battlements you have built between you and others on fire, and soar!

Advertisements
%d bloggers like this: