Swinging Bridges by Reva Lachica Moore

“Swinging Bridges” (My Humble Beginnings) by Reva Lachica Moore

(If you’ve crossed the Gabawan River, you’d be able to relate to my story — My Humble Beginnings)
The mere mention of childhood memories makes my mind go back in time to my birthplace – a farm in Bulwang, Romblon in the Philippines. Across the rice fields half a mile away is a tall mountain and within a few hundred feet from our doorstep is the Gabawan River.

Except for a few deep places, this river stays dry during summertime. One could walk across, or even ride a vehicle across. However, during the months of torrential rains, the river is a very strong and a dangerous force to reckon with. The strong currents make it impassable. The worst part is, we had to cross the river to go to school, to church and the nearest town.

I still have flashbacks of being carried on someone’s shoulder as we cross the treacherous currents. I also have memories of going across while hanging onto an adult making sure not to lose my footing. I was very scared of that river.

FAST FORWARD some fifty years later. I went back to the Philippines in 2004 and decided to take my husband JR Moore to the old farm. It was summertime and except for a few pools of water in places, the river was almost dried up. In one deep pool next to a huge tree, children were bathing. On the other side of the river, a shallow pool was inhabited by a water buffalo.

I thought we would be walking across the dry bed when a sudden glance upward made me scream in excitement. “A hanging bridge! Why didn’t we have ‘that’ when I was growing up?”

The Gabawan hanging bridge was designed and built according to the highest standards with regards to security and is made of aluminum, galvanized steel and concrete. It is wide and sturdy; I was not afraid to go across. (NOTE: Today, there is a cement bridge several feet away from the Gabawan swinging bridge. I was able to cross it in 2019 when I went to the Philippines.)

In contrast to this beautifully, engineered hanging bridge are also some of the most dangerous hanging bridges in many parts of the world. Bridges that are intended for foot traffic, that could leave you dangling scared to death above a rushing river, ravine or creek.

What makes a hanging bridge dangerous are reasons such as: too old, narrow, too high above the land, over a river, or if parts of the floor are missing and the bridge is still being used.

A few of the most dangerous hanging bridges in the world are: the hauntingly beautiful Kotmale Footbridge in Sri Lanka, the Hussaini in Borit Lake, Pakistan, the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge in Northern Ireland, the Taman Negara National Park Bridge in Malaysia, and the Hanging Bamboo Bridge in Bohol, Philippines.

These dangerous hanging bridges or swinging bridges (as what they’re called in the U.S.) are wobbly, missing planks, ragged, resembling something out of an Indiana Jones’ movie and tend to sway from side to side. One who dares to cross a dangerous hanging bridge usually does not want to look down below because of fear.

Swinging bridges were common landmarks and are still often seen in the West Virginia countryside. I have seen a swinging bridge during my visit to West Virginia a few years ago. Made of cables, planks and timbers, swinging bridges were constructed long ago to provide access to homes or farms isolated by streams. They serve good purpose, except for the fact that an old swinging bridge poses danger to the pedestrians. And if that’s not frightening enough, in a group of people crossing the bridge, there is always one who would jump up and down for fun causing the bridge to sway back and forth and making those crossing it become even more scared.

In my daily spiritual life, I feel as if I am always cautiously and apprehensively crossing an old and dangerous hanging bridge. The many missing planks in front of me and the raging water down below add to my fears. And JUST when I’ve REACHED the MIDDLE of the BRIDGE, the DEVIL WOULD JUMP UP and DOWN at the END of the SWINGING BRIDGE CAUSING ME to PANIC EVEN MORE.

But then I’d hear that reassuring voice saying, “Hold on to Me. I will carry you through.” Surely, God will safely help me go across – the swinging bridge of life.

Psalm 121:7-8 The LORD will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The LORD will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.