I think the timing of this wonderful short story could not be better. Here is a powerful message that I hope many of us can learn and act upon.
Once upon a time two brothers who lived on two farms beside each other fell into conflict. It was the first serious rift in 40 years of farming side by side, sharing machinery, and trading labor and goods as needed without any trouble.
Then the long friendship fell apart. It began with a small misunderstanding and it grew into a major difference, and finally it exploded into an exchange of bitter words followed by months of silence.
One morning there was a knock on one of the brothers door. He opened it to see a young man standing there. “I’m looking for a few days work,” he said.
“Perhaps you would have a few small jobs here and there. Could I help you?”
“Yes,” said the older brother. “I do have a job for you. Look across the creek at that farm. That’s my neighbor, in fact, it’s my brother. Last week there was a meadow between us and he took his bulldozer to the river levee and now there is a creek between us. Well, he may have done this to spite me, but I’ll go one better. See that pile of lumber by my barn? I want you to build me a fence – an 8-foot fence – so I won’t need to see him or his place anymore.”
The carpenter said, “I think I understand the situation. Show me the nails and I’ll be able to do a job that pleases you.”
The older brother had to go to town for supplies, so he helped the carpenter get the materials ready and then he set off for the day.
The carpenter worked hard all that day measuring, sawing, nailing.
It was around sunset when the farmer returned, the carpenter had just finished his job. The farmer’s eyes opened wide, and his jaw dropped.
There was no fence there at all. It was a bridge… a bridge stretching from one side of the creek to the other! A wonderful piece of work with handrails and all – and the neighbor, his younger brother, was coming across, his hand outstretched.
“You are quite a fellow to build this bridge after all I’ve said and done.”
The two brothers stood at each end of the bridge, and then they met in the middle, taking each other’s hand. They turned to see the carpenter walking away. “No, wait! Stay a few days. I have a lot of other projects for you,” said the older brother.
“I’d love to stay on,” the carpenter said, “but, I have many more bridges to build.”