Two brothers who lived on adjoining farms fell into conflict. It was the first serious rift in forty years of farming side by side, sharing machinery, and trading labour and goods as needed without a hitch. Then the long collaboration fell apart. It began small and it grew into a major difference, and finally it exploded into an exchange of bitter words followed by weeks of silence.
One morning at his door, one brother found a man with a carpenter’s toolbox, looking for a few days work.
“I do have a job for you. Look across the creek at that farm, it’s my younger 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. See that pile of lumber curing by the barn? I want you to build me a fence – an 8-foot fence – so I won’t need to see his place anymore.”
The carpenter said, “I think I understand the situation. Show me the nails and the post hole digger and I’ll be able to do a job that pleases you.”
The carpenter worked hard all that day measuring, sawing, and nailing. About sunset when the farmer returned, the carpenter had just finished his job.
There was no fence at all. It was a bridge – a bridge stretching from one side of the creek to the other! A fine piece of work – handrails and all – and his younger brother was on the other side, his hand outstretched.
The two brothers stood at each end of the bridge, and then they met in the middle, taking each other’s hand. “You are quite a fellow to build this bridge after all I’ve said and done.” said the younger brother.
They turned to see the carpenter hoist his toolbox on his shoulder. “No, wait! Stay a few days. I’ve 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.”