A meditation on … infrastructure

Approx. read time: 2:25 min.

The iconic Cape Creek Bridge, near Heceta Head on the Oregon coast, was built in the early 1930s.

The iconic Cape Creek Bridge, on Hwy 101 near Heceta Head on the Oregon coast, was built in the early 1930s (photo credit: Mary Sharon Moore, 2012)


For peace of mind, I limit myself to two news dips per day. These days I notice the word infrastructure floating often across my screen.


Being a word person, I wonder: What’s the underlying meaning to this strong weight-bearing word?

Webster refers me to infra, a prefix meaning under or beneath: a foundational prefix.

So infrastructure is “a substructure or underlying foundation” which supports “the continuance and growth of a community, state, etc.”

I am drawn to these words continuance and growth. Infrastructure is the solid foundation for the prospering of a community, state, etc.

As a writer I have no patience for “etc.” It’s lazy shorthand for “a whole bunch of stuff” that probably needs to be named.

Infrastructure, I begin to see, is the hidden foundation, or perhaps the bones and skin, that holds things together. It’s the systems that keep things from falling apart.

For some, home ownership and a well managed portfolio are the financial infrastructure that keep a household’s generational wealth from falling apart.

For workers, education and marketable skills, reliable transportation, worthy wages, and the means to care for young, ill, and elder members without loss of livelihood are the economic and social infrastructure that keep families, communities, entire states and nations from falling apart.

For those with chronic or unexpected illness, access to medical systems and affordable care and after-care are the healthcare infrastructure that keep their fleshly lives from falling apart.

Even the spiritual life depends on the infrastructure of regular prayer, interior disciplines, a spiritual or faith community, and rituals solid enough to carry us, each and together, through times of loss, pandemic, and for many, persecution.

Suddenly, I notice how urgently we need to slow down the news bites on national infrastructure plans and the head-spinning figures for what it will cost and how we might pay for it.

Our nation already bears the social and economic costs of inadequate, broken, or missing infrastructure.

We need an actual conversation, and fresh ways to think honestly and courageously about the massive interlocked 19th and 20th century systems we count on to hold our 21st century lives together.

This conversation also is spiritual work. We have it in us to responsibly ponder and debate the web of systems that support “the continuance and growth” of who we are as a people, in service to our nation’s worthy mission to preserve and prosper life for all who dwell herein.

Pope Francis repeatedly asserts: Everything is connected—and must be connected well for the flourishing of life. Hard and soft infrastructure, bio-infrastructure, eco-infrastructure, the whole works.

Our precious Earth models this wisdom, with dynamic systems that are interlaced, interdependent, and beneficial to the whole. She has something vital to teach us. 

Are we willing to learn?

Let me know your thoughts! Tour my world at

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