Building a Bridge of the Heart between China and the West
This website, originally called Building a Bridge of the Heart Between China and the West, was dedicated primarily to the fostering of understanding between the people of China and the people of “the West.” How? By the sharing of personal stories, photos, music, literature and other forms of cultural expression.
I have broadened my scope to A Bridge of Light, with matters Chinese not holding centre stage, so to speak, but still holding a very special place.
Either way, my premise is that people everywhere are essentially good and like to be understood. When we develop understanding for each other, misconceptions can be washed away and friendship can become a real possibility. Friendship is one of the most precious experiences of life, and I believe it can open the door to miracles. It did for me.
My Connection with China
I’ve been to China three times–the 1st two times I lived there, one time as a teacher; the other, as a student. My 3rd trip was in 2014 for six weeks, part of the time with humanitarian doctors and the rest of the time on my own, visiting friends “all over the place.” All wonderful.
My 1st time, in particular, was profound. It was 2004-2005 and I was in Harbin teaching English at the university level. Within two months of my arrival, I noticed that a peculiar achy sensation had developed in my chest. To distract myself, I worked harder, which was an easy thing to do since I had two jobs, but the ache persisted. In fact, it grew. “Why am I so happy, then in no time so sad? Why are my head and heart in a crazy whirl?” I asked myself.
I got my answer one day while chatting with an American colleague. He told me about his life in China, marrying his Chinese girlfriend and becoming a dad. “I haven’t been home for a visit in years,” he said. “There’s plenty I don’t like here, but this country has a mysterious way of getting under my skin. I mean that in a good way. China is my home now. I don’t want to leave.”
Something Like Falling in Love
“Is it something like falling in love?” I asked.
“Yeah, you could say that.” Then it dawned on me. The ache? I had fallen in love with China.
I’d like to say the romance proceeded smoothly, but like in other passionate relationships, I encountered great pain. The greatest pain was my having to leave China suddenly and unexpectedly, the result of a deadly accident that killed the man beside me and left me in serious condition.
Many have described my survival as nothing short of a miracle. Head-on, front seat, no seatbelt, etc. I am convinced that were it not for friendship, I’d not be alive today. Loving devotion, the hands-on kind, from many Chinese friends, and strangers too, made all the difference in the world. Their love helped me to survive two Chinese hospitals, one in an impoverished area, and two risky flights back to Canada. (The story is in my book.) Family and friends in Canada, exceptional medical care and the loving grace of God saw to the rest of my slow healing.
Maybe “crazy” to return, but three and a half years later (2008) and scared out of my mind, I made my 2nd trip to China. For four months I studied Mandarin.
For all its problems, I love China, both the land and the people. The richness of the culture fascinates me—from the sound of erhus and other traditional instruments dating back 1000’s of years, to the legends of dragons and phoenixes, the exquisite nature of old poetry and the mysterious wisdom of the Tao. A phenomenal amount of goodness resides in that country that we in the West simply do not hear about. Likewise, a tremendous amount of goodness that resides in the West is completely unknown to most Chinese.
So I say “East and West, let’s meet” and get to know each other better. Let’s become friends. Besides, building a bridge of friendship can be rewarding and fun. I call it Building a Bridge of the Heart. Another way of calling it is A Bridge of Light.
My China Blogs
Click on the below photo to see my selection of China associated blog posts. My other blog posts can be found by clicking on the blogs tab in the menu. Please explore and enjoy!
Pictured is Youyicun garden, Suzhou (photo by “Gisling”). I think moon bridges are beautiful. You too? 🙂