Skillfully combined

The stunning Golden Gate Bridge, photographed through the fog from Marin Headlands, 2003

The Golden Gate Bridge, seen through the fog from Marin Headlands, July 2003

“Small things grow mighty, if they are skillfully combined.  Blades of grass will make a rope to bind a raging elephant.”Hitopadesha

These words of wisdom echo a theme found repeatedly in various works, from Aesop’s fables to the Bible. Perhaps there is no greater physical symbol of the strength of unity than the breathtaking Golden Gate Bridge.  It is considered one of the great marvels of modern engineering, thought by many to be impossible until it was successfully built.  Here is a brief quote about  its construction: “Each of the main cables contains 27,572 galvanized wires which are bundled into 61 strands that contain 454 wires each. The combined weight of the main cables, vertical suspender cables and accessories is 24,500 tons.” (Find this quote, and much more, at this site.)  Skillfully combined, these wires have produced an amazing, practical and beautiful adornment to a fabulous landscape, one of the most photographed places in the world.

After the immediate shock of my husband’s devastating diagnosis, I began to research and read as much as I could about how to reverse the grim prognosis.  One theme began to emerge from all sources: survival for any length of time will depend on a multidisciplinary approach.  In practical terms, this means we need a team of doctors, each with a different area of expertise, all working together to most effectively fight the spread of disease throughout the body.  In the background, of course, we marshal our own team of loving supporters and faithful prayer partners who help us to endure and hopefully prevail for as long as possible.  We are already reaping the benefits from the strength of unified purpose.

The same is true for almost any human endeavor.  We all need each other.  We have the blessing and responsibility to work, reason and live together in peace, despite our differences.  While we will never agree on everything, to the extent that we are able to achieve unity of purpose, we will be strong enough to endure almost any hardship.

This post was originally published seven years ago today. You can view the original with comments here.


  1. Good morning, Julia!
    Wow, what a compelling blog entry this is. Parallel to the multi-disciplined approach, you’ve combined a great quote, great photo, interesting facts and personal experience to make an inspiring argument. Adding yesterday’s piece on the importance of walking, I feel inspired to add to my multi-disciplined practices for keeping healthy and fit.
    Thanks for the help and encouragement!

    • There are many important avenues leading to what we call “healthy and fit,” aren’t there? And for each avenue, many different means of travel. I’m a great believer that one size does not fit all, so I’m glad there are all sorts of gurus and ideas and approaches. A cynic might see it all as pure money-making opportunists at work, but I do think much of what starts out as controversial eventually gains credibility. On a lighter note, I’m reminded of one of Ashleigh Brilliant’s funny quotes on the topic: “My intense pursuit of physical and mental health is ruining my body and destroying my mind.” I guess moderation is the key. 😀

      • LOL that’s a great Brilliant quote!

        • Yes, Ashleigh is a jewel, and truly a Brilliant person (that’s really his name).

  2. Great article. The bridge is a masterpiece of engineering just from the standpoint of being able to endure the strong tides going into and out of the bay. Doubly true during storms.

    I fully agree we all need each other too. The division and harsh dialog out there is really depressing at times.

    • It does get depressing, doesn’t it? But I keep reminding myself that most people are usually operating from a place of good will toward others, even those who are different from themselves. We have to keep building bridges, one person and one encounter at a time, and not let the anger and nastiness have the last word. If Anne Frank could still believe “people are really good at heart,” I should be able to manage it too– though some days it’s easier than others.

  3. “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”

    • I’ve always appreciated that verse, but sometimes have a hard time living up to it. I recently started reading Watchman Nee’s classic The Normal Christian Life and it has given me an interesting perspective on why that might be.

      • Yes Julia. Often it does seem difficult, but is only impossible if we don’t try. God’s grace is ever before us. We need but take the first step and it will strengthen us to take the next and then the next.

        • Thank you, Alan. It’s always encouraging to be reminded.

Thanks for encouraging others by sharing your thoughts:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: