This ancient stone bridge can teach us a lesson about resilience during a crisis

Tarragona Province
Hemis via AFP

Let’s build our houses on the solid rock of Christ, so that we may withstand the storms.

During this pandemic, many of us are looking for examples of how to overcome the crisis. How can we be strong and resilient? How can we come out on top in these months of personal, economic, and familial difficulties?

The story of the bridge in the photograph below can help inspire us during this stage of our lives. It was built in the 12th century, in the architectural style of the Romanesque period. It’s located in Montblanc, a medieval village located in the Catalonia region of northeastern Spain.

In October 2019, heavy rains caused the Francolí River to overflow. The floodwater carried away everything in its path—crops, trees, houses—along a 40-mile stretch. The catastrophe took a sad toll on human life: 4 dead and 3 missing.

Where the river passes through the town of Montblanc, the flood caused significant damage, carrying away many recent additions to the famous medieval bridge that spans the river: a railing, and the modern roads on either side of the bridge.

Surprisingly, the more-than-800-year-old stone bridge itself resisted the onslaught of the waters. Neither the flood nor the logs and stones and debris carried by its current could take down the ancient construction.

The lessons we can learn

What’s the moral of this story? What can we learn from it?

  1. The bridge was built of stones, which are a sturdy material. They were heavy and difficult to move, but the builders considered it worthwhile to use this construction material that would make the bridge long-lasting. Their success is evident: The bridge has been standing for nearly a thousand years.
  2. The stones were well and carefully placed. They support each other, and this makes the whole bridge strong.

If we want to be strong and sturdy in moments of crisis and difficulty, we also must build our lives out of solid principles. We can construct our lives to be enduring and unbreakable in the storms and floods that will inevitably assail our souls. These 3 guidelines can help.

We need to use good materials.

Our lives must be built out of moral principles that govern us and ground us. Enduring truths of our faith guide us along the right paths.

We must give them the right form.

We have to put our values and principles into practice, so that they’re not just abstract ideals, but real virtues. As St. James wrote in Sacred Scripture, “For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.” (James 2:26) Putting our beliefs into action shows that we really believe what we say.

We need to support each other.

A stone can be knocked over easily if it’s alone. When joined with others, it can become part of a bridge that serves countless people throughout the centuries.

Our values and principles strengthen each other: faith, responsibility, love, family, work… Each is deeply connected to the others. And when virtuous people support each other, they’re stronger than when they’re isolated. That’s why we should surround ourselves with people who share our values.

The story of the bridge brings to mind the Gospel parable found in Matthew 7:24-27:

“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell—and great was its fall!”

Like the ancient bridge that still stands when so much around it has fallen into destruction, let’s build the houses of our souls on the solid rock of Christ, that we too may withstand the storms.

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