A bridge of love for light to pass
May 9, 2010 § Leave a comment
When the great Canadian journalist and broadcast host Peter Gzowski’s passed away in 2002 I read a quote from one of his listeners in the Globe and Mail that has stayed with me ever since: “He built a bridge of love for light to pass,” it read.
I had always remembered Mr. Gzowski (who, it is estimated, had interviewed over 27,000 people in his lifetime) as the gruff, elderly, friendly-giant-type voice of CBC’s Morningside, which filled the rooms of my childhood home every morning for as far back as I can remember. The idea of his creating “a bridge of love” seemed to me an odd yet insightful metaphor for such a character.
I just returned from my yearly attendance at Hotdocs documentary film festival in Toronto, where I watched over 15 documentaries from countries around the world. The films ranged from stories of women trying to stop the wide-spread practice of genital mutilation in Kenya, to a story of non-violent resistance of the Israeli separation wall in the small Palestinian village of Budrus. I saw a film about the life of a Shamanic sexual healer named Baba Dez in Arizona, and a film about the situation of women in Iran who are desperate to divorce their husbands under extremely oppressive laws. Finally, I saw touching portraits of people’s interior lives and journeys; one which documented a man’s quest to hold his absent and drugged-out hippie father accountable for the neglect and abandonment he grew up in the shadow of.
The stories were often at once tragic, raw, joyous and transcendent, and pulled at my heart and gut in their utter honesty. The stark vulnerability of the subjects and directors who sought to shed light on these stories also amazed me. I wonder, how could any of these stories have been told without the creation of a bridge of love for light to pass.
So now, eight years after having read that brief eulogy, I am struck with the truth of what it means to be a journalist. This work is at its root a work of love: It is the work of deep listening from which emerge the stories that want and need to be told. Journalists are witnesses who often become transformed themselves by the stories they document.
Last night, I arrived home late from the 7-hour bus ride. The cats could feel the love, and curled up together on my bed for the first time… well… ever!
I will think about how I can build that bridge of love in the telling of stories in whatever direction my work takes me from here.