Heraclitean Fire & Comfort Of Resurrection

The bridge at Mostar has been rebuilt. It was originally built in 1566 by the Ottoman Turks, and was destroyed in 1993 by the Croatian army.

The pic above is from an amateur video shot by a Serb and broadcast on Serbian state TV.

There's been a lot of talk, because of the rebuilding, about peace and recovery and resilience, as there should be. But I admit that the first thought I had when I read of the project's completion was, "If there weren't a living, breathing, shopping, coffee-drinking town there, it might have been the more beautiful thing to leave the bridge crumpled and crumbled."


That History Is a Heraclitean Fire

To souls it is death to become water, to water death to become earth, but from earth water is born, and from water soul.


If only the bridge had been left

Permanently crumpled,

The rock face and woods as forever as guns.

After all, the turrets still remain on either side

Of the reconstruction, and the mosques.

They would have been more beautiful staring

Over a less wide gap than they are now.

But not without fear:

They would have been beautiful

Like Blake's pictures, or Milton's Devil.


Yes, my aesthetic judgment, my taste, would have been to leave the bridge broken permanently, so that Croatian artillery fire would be as lasting as the tree-covered mountain faces around the Neretva River. It just seemed more tragically poetic that way, and that is, in the romantic version of life, appropriate to the Balkan peoples, just as it is to Irishmen.

Thank goodness not everyone's a romantic.

It seems like rebuilding this bridge is the hopeful thing. Many of the same stones that fell and were washed away by the river were recovered and incorporated into the new arch. But despite this coming up from water, the new bridge isn't resurrective, it's reconstructive. The same hostilities exist, smoldering. Nature is a heraclitean fire. Heraclitus: "This world-order, the same of all, no god nor man did create, but it ever was and is and will be: everliving fire, kindling in measures and being quenched in measures." Where does the bridge go from here? Back down. And then back up again? Heraclitean...reincarnational, not incarnational.

See, I'm not bemoaning the material, now. I'm bemoaning whitewashes. In such a gospel-less place, where will real healing come from? Leaving the bridge down would be like burying a dead loved one. The tombstone reminds us of the final, real, and lasting hope.

But I've sipped too much coffee and talked too much. The bridge needs to be rebuilt: mom needs to shop, and family must be visited in towns beyond this one. And that would be easier to believe if the lines of hatred were not already so fixed.

Perhaps the people will grow tired, and perhaps God will visit them. Amen.

Here's a prettier picture.